COVID-19 FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions about CNPS protection and COVID-19

Will the CNPS generally provide assistance with incidents that may arise from care I provide during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Will the CNPS assist in the event that a complaint is made to my nursing regulator about care I provided during COVID-19?

Will the CNPS assist me if I am asked to provide care outside my usual area of practice or in a new work location?

How do nurses obtain an Emergency License?

Are nurses eligible for CNPS protection with an emergency or temporary nursing license?

I have been asked to take on a role during COVID-19 which is outside my usual area of practice. What should I do?

How can I reduce the risk of allegations against my care during the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the current pandemic, should I use virtual care to see patients?

My employer (or prospective employer) is asking me to offer telehealth services in other provinces or territories within Canada. Does CNPS PLP extend to this? Am I allowed to do this with my current license?

I have just received a written agreement from a virtual care clinic that has offered me a position. Does the CNPS review written agreements in such situations?

I am a self-employed nurse who has been asked to provide remote counselling to patients in my region by my third-party contractor. I have been asked to provide cyber security insurance on my general liability insurance. Does CNPS provide this?

 

Will the CNPS generally provide assistance with incidents that may arise from care I provide during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The CNPS will generally extend assistance to beneficiaries for incidents that arise from care that they provided in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CNPS team is fully operational and available to beneficiaries seeking legal advice, including requests for contract reviews.

One of the CNPS’s eligibility criteria is that nurses have a valid nursing license. It is important to note that the CNPS will only grant assistance for those occurrences which took place while the nurse was legally providing professional nursing services (i.e. licensed to practice nursing in the jurisdiction(s) where the professional services were provided and within the legislated scope of practice)

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Will the CNPS assist in the event that a complaint is made to my nursing regulator about care I provided during COVID-19?

The CNPS offers a Supplementary Protection program to beneficiaries for an additional fee. The CNPS Supplementary Protection program was created to provide an affordable source of legal assistance with complaints regarding your professional conduct from your nursing regulator (College or Association).

Please note that this protection is not included within core services. Additionally, you must be or have been a registrant of the Supplementary Protection program at the time of the incident giving rise to the complaint or investigation; if the complaint or investigation pertains to more than one incident or to a continuous or repetitive course of conduct, you must be a registrant of the program when every incident took place or for the entire duration of the conduct giving rise to the complaint and/or investigation; and you must have maintained your registration with the Supplementary Protection program at the time when the complaint was filed by the complainant to the nursing regulator.

For more information and detailed terms of eligibility, please visit www.cnps.ca/complaints.

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Will the CNPS assist me if I am asked to provide care outside my usual area of practice or in a new work location?

While it is difficult to predict the variety of legal incidents that may arise from providing nursing services during COVID-19, the CNPS will generally extend assistance to eligible nurses licensed to practice nursing in Canada who face a claim arising from nursing services provided in Canada.

If you are providing care to clients in other jurisdictions, you will need to check with the nursing regulators in those jurisdictions to determine whether additional licensure is required. If you are providing care in person, you will generally need to be licensed in that jurisdiction. When providing virtual care, you may require licensure in both the jurisdiction where you are located, as well as the client’s location.

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How do nurses obtain an Emergency License?

Many nursing regulators have temporary emergency licensure available for nurses who wish to assist during the pandemic. Every province and territory has their own process for obtaining an Emergency License. Nurses are encouraged to check with their respective regulators to determine whether they are eligible for Emergency Licensure and to determine the process for registration.

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Are nurses eligible for CNPS protection with an emergency or temporary nursing license?

Nurses registered with a regulatory body who is a CNPS member organization will generally be eligible for CNPS services in the normal course. Nurses registered in jurisdictions where they need to obtain their liability protection independently should contact the CNPS directly.

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I have been asked to take on a role during COVID-19 which is outside my usual area of practice. What should I do? 

The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary situation which may require temporary changes to how nurses are being called upon to practice. Nurses may be asked to work in unfamiliar circumstances or in clinical areas outside of their usual practice for the benefit of patients.1 It would be prudent to contact your provincial or territorial regulatory body to advise them of this situation.

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How can I reduce the risk of allegations against my care during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Given the constant and frequent changes arising from this global pandemic, frequent and contemporaneous nursing documentation is especially important to not only capture the nursing care and discussions that a nurse has with their patients, but also to capture the nurse’s decision-making process as it relates to the continuation of services or temporary suspension of care. Proper documentation remains one of the most important actions you can take to reduce professional liability risk.

The most common allegations against nurses are unprofessional or unethical nursing practice and negligence.  By observing the standards, practice guidelines and the Code of Ethics of your nursing regulator, nurses can avoid allegations of unprofessional or unethical nursing practice. 

Negligence is the failure to take the care that a reasonable nurse in similar circumstances would have taken.2 Nurses can avoid charges of negligence by acting “reasonably” by providing care which avoids foreseeable harm to a patient, and which is on par with the care that other nurses would have provided in similar situations.

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During the current pandemic, should I use virtual care to see patients?

Virtual care technologies (such as videoconferencing, virtual care apps messaging apps, telephone advice, etc.) can play an important role in the current pandemic by keeping patients with non-urgent medical needs away from higher risk areas such as hospitals and clinics.  

Virtual care services will not always be an appropriate model to meet a client's needs, especially when an in-person physical examination is required. It is important to consult and understand the policies your organization has put in place to minimize risk and to provide safeguards.

Nurses engaged in virtual care must also comply with their professional and legal obligations for the protection of a client’s privacy and confidentiality.  An important factor in protecting your client’s privacy and confidentiality is to obtain their informed consent before any treatment is undertaken.

For more information on this topic, read the CNPS InfoLaw “Telepractice” and the article, “Twelve things nurses should consider before engaging in a virtual care practice.

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My employer (or prospective employer) is asking me to offer telehealth services in other provinces or territories within Canada. Does CNPS PLP extend to this? Am I allowed to do this with my current license?

Each jurisdiction in Canada has its own licensing requirements regarding where the nursing care is considered to be taking place: the nurse’s location, the client’s location or both. In the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, all nurses providing telehealth to clients residing in their jurisdiction are required to be licensed in that jurisdiction, regardless of the nurse’s location. Quebec does not require this but strongly recommends this.

One of the CNPS’s eligibility criteria is that nurses are required to have a valid nursing license. Nurses who are providing telehealth services to clients in one of the mandatory licensing jurisdictions listed above without a local license, may not be eligible for CNPS protection.

This issue is particularly relevant as the CNPS will only grant assistance for those occurrences which took place while the nurse was legally providing professional nursing services (i.e. licensed to practice nursing in the jurisdiction(s) where the professional services were provided and within the legislated scope of practice).

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I have just received a written agreement from a virtual care clinic that has offered me a position. Does the CNPS review written agreements in such situations?

One of the services provided to CNPS beneficiaries within core services is pre-contractual reviews of professional service agreements. CNPS beneficiaries can call 1-800-267-3390 to speak with a member of CNPS Legal Counsel regarding this

This service serves to assist beneficiaries in identifying wording or content in a proposed agreement that may give rise to issues concerning professional obligations, responsibility or liability. It is not intended to address pure employment or commercial terms. As there are several aspects of an agreement to consider in a review, it is important to contact the CNPS as soon as possible upon receipt of the agreement so that there is adequate time to proceed to the review. 

Please note that due to a high number of requests for contractual reviews the CNPS cannot provide any commitment that a review will be conducted in advance of any deadline, particularly if the timeline is very short.

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I am a self-employed nurse who has been asked to provide remote counselling to patients in my region by my third-party contractor. I have been asked to provide cyber security insurance on my general liability insurance. Does CNPS provide this?

CNPS Core Services are comprised of legal advice, risk management services, legal assistance and personal professional liability protection.

If you have purchased additional general liability insurance as an independent contractor through an insurer, you should check with them to see whether your policy includes cyber liability protection.  

Additionally, a number of cyber liability options and business insurance products are available through CNPS Business Plus – a  group insurance product brokered by BMS offering which offers business insurance options for CNPS beneficiaries who work as independent contractors, employ other nurses or who provide nursing services through a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other business entity.

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1. “COVID-19: Information for Nurses Currently Practising in Nova Scotia”; Nova Scotia College of Nursing; April 30, 2020.

2. “Negligence”; CNPS InfoLAW; November 2004.

May 2020