Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Partnering with People
What is Professional Liability Protection (PLP)?
Professional liability protection (PLP) exists to compensate individuals who are found by a court to have suffered injury as a result of care that falls below accepted standards. As a result, the public is protected because an adequate source of compensation is available. The health care professional is also protected because he or she benefits from legal representation when facing a claim for compensation and does not have to bear personally the full cost of the legal proceedings and the compensation, if the court orders that it be paid.
What is the Canadian Nurses Protective Society?
The Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS) is a not-for-profit society providing legal advice, risk management services, legal assistance and PLP related to nursing practice to over 135,000 eligible Canadian nurses across all Canadian provinces and territories. The CNPS is not an insurance company, but a legal support system created by nurses, for nurses. CNPS assistance is provided on a discretionary basis and all requests for legal assistance are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking account of your specific needs, and in some circumstances, the resources available to you from your employer or your union. This approach allows the CNPS to provide assistance in a broader range of circumstances in which legal support is appropriate to protect the public and the integrity of your nursing practice, including some of the unusual and unpredictable circumstances that can arise. CNPS PLP is made available on an occurrence-basis. This means that it extends to all professional nursing activities undertaken within the scope of practice of the profession from November 1, 2019 going forward (as long as you remain a beneficiary of the CNPS by paying the mandatory annual fee). Additionally, CNPS professional liability protection will also extend to nursing activities undertaken as a member of RPNAS as early as March 29, 1988, provided that the claim has been commenced at any time on or after November 1, 2019. CNPS has a long history of providing PLP for Registered Nurses and is a mandatory provider of PLP for nurses in 10 of the 12 provinces and territories. RPNs in British Columbia became CNPS beneficiaries in 2018, and RPNs in Manitoba will become CNPS beneficiaries in January 2020.
What does this mean for practising RPNAS registrants?
As of November 1, 2019, all practising duly registered psychiatric nurses of Saskatchewan (including graduate psychiatric nurses) will become CNPS beneficiaries. As a CNPS beneficiary:
• You will have access to up to $10 million of professional liability protection. The CNPS determines the extent of assistance based on the circumstances of each case to best fulfill its mandate to protect the nursing professional and the public, also taking into account the PLP already made available by your employer. Where the patient has suffered a catastrophic injury, up to $10 million can be available to be paid on your behalf for compensation. CNPS assistance also generally includes hiring legal counsel to represent your interests before the courts.
• You will be generally eligible for the full range of the CNPS legal support services in your day-today nursing practice. These services include confidential legal advice regarding circumstances in your practice (e.g. patient safety concerns, requests for access to client records, police inquiries and service of legal documents), the assessment of professional services agreements (contracts), information about the legal implications of new legal developments (for instance, medical assistance in dying, medical use of cannabis), and emerging risks in your practice.
• You will be eligible for CNPS assistance with other types of legal proceedings arising from nursing practice. These services include criminal investigations, criminal prosecutions, Coroner’s investigations, human rights complaints and allegations of privacy breach. Please note that the CNPS will not pay fines and other penalties that are imposed further to an investigation, or as part of a sanction. What are the circumstances in which the CNPS generally extends assistance to a beneficiary? As a beneficiary of the CNPS, you will have access to services to assist you in your day-to-day practice, such as:
• Confidential legal advice regarding circumstances in your practice (e.g. patient safety concerns, request for access to client records, police inquiries and service of legal documents)
• The assessment of professional services agreements (i.e. contracts)
• Information about the legal implications of new legal developments (for instance, medical assistance in dying, medical use of cannabis) and emerging issues in your practice In addition to being a source of professional liability protection in the event of a claim (lawsuit) for financial compensation, CNPS assistance can also extend to criminal investigations, criminal prosecutions, Coroner’s investigations, human rights complaints and allegations of abuse, defamation, or privacy breaches. Visit the CNPS website for more details. What are the circumstances in which the CNPS generally does not extend assistance? CNPS assistance generally does not extend to:
• Labour relations (issues relating to your collective agreement)
• Pure employment disputes (salary, interpersonal conflicts, termination)
• Matters related to workers’ compensation
• Business disputes, if you practice as an independent practitioner
• Investigations by a nursing regulatory body1 1 Assistance with investigations by a nursing regulatory body (i.e. College complaints) is available under a separate, optional program. This is unrelated to the agreement between RPNAS and CNPS. I am sure that my employer provides PLP and I have only ever worked for one employer. Why can’t I instead rely on my employer’s PLP? Best practices now require health care professionals who have a personal duty of care and can be held personally liable for their care to have an individual source of PLP.
• There is no legal requirement in Canada for employers to provide a minimum amount of liability coverage for their employees. While health authorities and institutional employers provide adequate PLP, that protection extends to activities within the scope of employment. As a regulated health care professional, RPNs can practice in many different settings and must have a source of adequate PLP wherever they practice.
• Some employer PLP may not extend to certain types of claims, such as allegations of breach of privacy, abuse, sexual impropriety, and defamation. CNPS PLP extends to all civil claims arising from nursing practice.
• An employer’s insurance business coverage may not continue if the employer discontinues its operations. CNPS beneficiaries remain eligible for assistance with respect to claims arising from services provided while they are a CNPS beneficiary, irrespective of when the claim arises.
Does CNPS PLP extend to my business? I have an independent practice and I have been insured under an insurance policy for some time. Can I cancel my policy?
Not necessarily. Although all members will be required to have the type and amount of PLP directed by the bylaws as of November 1,2019, this protection will apply solely to personal PLP. Some members may operate as independent providers. Others may operate a more elaborate business (with its own physical premises and/or employees, for instance). In these cases, it will likely be important to maintain insurance coverage to address commercial, property or business liability risks. It would be unadvisable to cancel an insurance policy without first obtaining professional advice. If you already have an insurance policy in place, please contact the CNPS to discuss your options before making changes to your current insurance coverage. There may be an opportunity to reduce the extent or cost of your business coverage, but this should be done with the benefit of appropriate consultation.
How much will it cost to become a CNPS beneficiary?
The RPNAS has entered into an agreement with CNPS so that RPNAS can ensure that every Practising and Graduate member will have access to an appropriate form of professional liability protection while they are a practising registrant. The added benefit is that RPNAS members will benefit from a more favorable group rate. A further benefit is that the liability protection will be made available on an occurrence basis, which means that as long as you were a CNPS beneficiary at the time the incident occurred, you remain eligible for CNPS assistance. An additional fee will be applied systematically to the agreement for the first five years so that Saskatchewan RPNs can fairly access the funds to which other organizations have been contributing for over 30 years. In other words, it is the additional fee that will extend your eligibility for CNPS professional liability protection to all incidents that may have occurred as part of your duly licensed psychiatric nursing practice while you were a practising member on the RPNAS registry, provided that those incidents occurred on or after March 29, 1988 and that the claim arising from those incidents is commenced after November 1, 2019. For the 2020 membership year, each practising RPNAS member will pay an annual fee of $48.00, plus a transitional fee of $24.25, plus a fee of $8 to cover the months of November and December 2019 for a total of $80.25. For the 2021-2025 membership years, the fee will come to a total of $72.25. The basic individual annual unit fee of $48.00 is reassessed every year and could be adjusted from year to year if necessary, depending on the number of claims and the cost of defending claims.
How will I pay?
You will pay the CNPS fee when you renew your registration each year, starting at the upcoming registration. The CNPS fee will be invoiced as a separate item, but you can pay for it in the same transaction as you pay your practising registration fee. The payment of the CNPS fee will satisfy the RPNAS that you have met its PLP requirement. Should your employer or another party require evidence of PLP, it will be necessary to contact the CNPS for the documentation. The RPNAS will enter into an agreement with the CNPS to facilitate meeting the mandatory PLP requirement. We will forward basic information about you (your name as it appears on the register; your professional designation (RPN or grad); the date you were entered onto the register; your registration number; contact information) and, your payment to CNPS. This will provide CNPS proof of your registration with the RPNAS and automatically make you a CNPS beneficiary.
Are there additional costs if I use CNPS services?
No. There are no additional costs if you consult a CNPS legal advisor or if the CNPS hires legal counsel on your behalf. Once the CNPS grants assistance, the CNPS will also generally pay, on your behalf, any amount awarded as compensation in a lawsuit, unless that amount is fully covered by your employer. The CNPS however will not pay fines and other penalties that are imposed against you further to an investigation, or as part of a sanction. The CNPS may, from time to time, offer additional optional services. These services will be found under the banner of “Supplementary Protection.” To become eligible for these services, CNPS beneficiaries submit a separate application and an additional fee. This is unrelated to any PLP agreement between RPNAS and CNPS.
Will I have to continue to pay the CNPS fee after I retire to continue to be eligible for CNPS professional liability protection in the event that a claim is commenced after I retire?
No. CNPS professional liability protection is made available on an occurrence-basis, which means that as long as you were a CNPS beneficiary at the time the incident occurred, you remain eligible for CNPS assistance, even if a claim is commenced years later. This is important because in health care, claims can be commenced many years after the care was provided.
How do I initiate a request for legal information, legal advice or legal assistance from the CNPS?
Starting November 1, 2019, contact the CNPS by phone at 1-800-267-3390 or 1-844-469-2677 (1-844- 4MY-CNPS).
You can also contact the CNPS by email at [email protected]
We also encourage you to visit www.cnps.ca for more information.