If you have not done so already, please review Jurisprudence Module 3: Professional Practice Requirements to familiarize yourself with the key documents governing the professional conduct processes before continuing with Module 5, which factually presents the process for responding to a complaint of unprofessional conduct.

It is common for complaints to be submitted about healthcare professionals. SLPs and audiologists may make mistakes; however, not every mistake is unprofessional conduct. Health professionals are not perfect.

Determining what unprofessional conduct means starts with the Health Professions Act (HPA). The definition of unprofessional conduct is a long list of broad conduct that is considered unprofessional.

The HPA defines unprofessional conduct and it includes:

  • displaying a lack of knowledge, skill, or judgment while providing professional services;
  • violating the directives given in the Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, HPA, and other relevant enactments;
  • practicing without a valid practice permit or registration;
  • representing or presenting yourself or another person as having a practice permit or registration or being in good standing when they do not;
  • representing or presenting yourself or another person as having no conditions on their practice permit or misrepresenting the conditions;
  • violating an order by a Hearing Tribunal, conditions imposed on a practice permit, or a direction related to capacity;
  • practicing with a health professional who is violating an order or conditions imposed on their practice permit or a direction related to capacity; and
  • engaging in conduct that harms the integrity of the regulated profession.

Also, unprofessional conduct is a failure or refusal to:

  • comply with the requirements of the Continuing Competence Program (CCP);
  • co-operate with a competence committee or an appointed person appointed undertaking a practice visit;
  • comply with a request of or co-operate with an inspector or investigator;
  • comply with a direction from the registrar;
  • comply with an agreement that is part of an approved settlement facilitated by the Alternative Complaints Resolution process;
  • undergo a health examination related to capacity; and
  • comply with a notice to attend a hearing and a notice to produce documents at a hearing.

Note: All of these actions are deemed as unprofessional conduct whether they are disgraceful or dishonourable.

HPA, s.1(pp)

For example, a practitioner who did not complete the renewal for their practice permit and pay the fee while continuing to work is engaging in unprofessional conduct.

In summary, unprofessional conduct includes behavior that is unskilled, incompetent, unauthorized, uncooperative, and/or unethical.

Contextual examples of unprofessional conduct include a regulated member:

  • billing for services not provided;
  • practicing the profession in Alberta while the Alberta registration is being processed by the College and has not yet been approved;
  • threatening to sue a patient or client who is considering, or who has made a complaint to ACSLPA;
  • accessing ConnectCare for purposes not related to the clinical care of their patient or client such as looking up the health information of family, friends, or enemies;
  • making inadequate documentation of professional services provided;
  • providing services without informed consent;
  • providing services that do not meet the standard expected of an SLP or audiologist;
  • having a sexual relationship with or making sexualized comments to a patient; or
  • destroying records before the allotted time required by ACSLPA’s Standards of Practice and legislation.