Complaints & Discipline

Complaints and Discipline Process

The following information is to help members of the public, employers, coworkers, and others who want to submit a complaint about the conduct of a nurse.  On this page, “nurse” includes a Graduate Nurse, a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practitioner in New Brunswick.

Types of Complaints NANB can Address

If you are considering submitting a complaint, you should be aware of what NANB has jurisdiction to address.  NANB has the authority to address complaints about nurses who are currently registered to practise nursing in New Brunswick or who were registered to practise nursing in New Brunswick at the time your complaint arose. (Click here for a list of nurses who are registered to practise nursing in New Brunswick).  Complaints within NANB’s jurisdiction raise concerns that nurses:

  • practiced inappropriately and/or failed to meet the Standards of Practice or Code of Ethics requirements;
  • have medical, physical, psychological or other condition(s) that makes her/him/them unfit, incapable or unsafe to practise nursing; and/or
  • pose a risk to the public as a result of poor nursing practice.

In some situations, NANB does not have the authority to address your concern.  For example, NANB cannot address concerns about healthcare providers other than Graduate Nurses, Registered Nurses or Nurse Practitioners, and cannot address workplace or labour relations complaints.  NANB cannot order financial compensation to patients, complainants or their families, and cannot proceed with a complaint without notifying the nurse(s) in question. 

Making a Complaint

If you have a concern regarding a nurse's practice and wish to file a complaint with NANB, you must provide your complaint in writing.  NANB cannot accept complaints by telephone and cannot accept anonymous complaints.  Please provide a full description of the conduct/incident(s)/issue(s), including: the name of the nurse(s) involved, what he/she/they did or failed to do, when and where it happened, and any other relevant circumstances in enough detail that the complaint can be clearly understood by the Committee that will consider it and by the nurse(s) who will respond to it.  Be sure to include your full name and contact information, including your full mailing address, email address and telephone number.

You may submit copies of any documents you feel are important in order to clearly explain or support your complaint.  Please note that NANB staff cannot help you write your complaint or provide advice aside from explaining the complaints process.

Your complaint must be dated and signed (by hand or electronically – a typed signature at the bottom of your written complaint is acceptable) and submitted to NANB either by mail (165 Regent Street, Fredericton, NB  E3B 7B4), by email (complaints@nanb.nb.ca) or fax ((506) 459-2838).

Third Party Complaints

During the complaints process, personal health information about a person who has received care from a nurse may be disclosed.  In some cases, a person may make a complaint regarding the care provided to another person, such as a family member or a loved one.  In those cases, NANB will not disclose personal health information about the family member or loved one to the person making the complaint, unless the complainant is authorized to receive such information about that person. 

The following table outlines individuals who may be authorized to receive personal health information about another person during the complaints process:

To receive information about the care provided to: You must have authority from (or you must be):
Another adult who has the capacity to consent  The adult who received care
Another adult who does not have the capacity to consent  The legally authorized representative of the adult who received care
Deceased person   The Executor or Administrator of the deceased person’s estate (if the disclosure of information is related to the administration of the deceased person’s estate)
A child under the age of 18 Depending on the circumstances, one or all parents/guardians and/or the child

Where authorization is required, you must submit a copy of the applicable legal documentation, which may include: Personal Directive, Guardianship Order, Will, Letters of Administration or Power of Attorney to NANB along with the complaint. 

Mandatory Reporting

As noted above, complaints related to concerns that a nurse practiced inappropriately and/or failed to meet the requirements of the Standards of Practice or the Code of Ethics; concerns that a nurse is unfit, incapable or unsafe to practise nursing; and/or concerns that a nurse is a risk to the public as a result of poor nursing practice; should be reported to NANB.

Certain conduct must be reported to NANB:

  • any nurse is obligated to file a complaint with NANB if he/she has reason to believe that another nurse is unable to function safely to such an extent that the welfare of patients is jeopardized;
  • any nurse is obligated to file a complaint with NANB if he/she has reason to believe that another health professional has sexually abused a patient or client; and
  • employers who dismiss a nurse for reasons of incompetence or incapacity are obligated by law to report such dismissal to NANB. 

Failure by a nurse to report these matters to NANB is considered professional misconduct. 

Complaints Process

Upon receipt of your complaint, NANB will send an acknowledgment letter to you. 

The nurse(s) involved will be provided with a copy of your complaint and will be informed of who made the complaint. The nurse(s) will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint, and a copy of any response received (except for personal health information, if applicable, as discussed above) will be sent to you. 

Complaints Committee:  A panel of the Complaints Committee, consisting of two nurses and one public member, will review the complaint, the nurse’s response, and any documentation submitted by the parties.  The Complaints Committee considers only written materials – neither the complainant nor the nurse(s) involved in the complaint attend the Complaints Committee meeting.  Upon review of the documents, the Complaints Committee determines if the complaint should be dismissed, or if it warrants further consideration by either the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice Committee.  If the Complaints Committee finds it necessary to prevent a danger to the public by suspending the nurse’s registration pending completion of the Discipline Committee’s or Fitness to Practice Committee’s process, it may do so.

Discipline Committee:  The Discipline Committee considers allegations of professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming a nurse, incompetence and dishonesty. 

Fitness to Practice Committee:   The Fitness to Practice Committee considers allegations that a nurse has a medical, physical or mental health condition that renders the nurse unable to practise competently or safely.

Complaints referred to the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice Committee may be considered by holding a hearing, or by agreement of the parties in writing under the Alternate Complaint Resolution Proposal process.

For additional information, please see:

Nurses Act
Bylaws