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Professional Sanctions – CARNA (Mehra #77883) Decision May 4, 2021
Employees that are part of certain regulated job groups are called “Professionals” at law. A list of many Professionals and other information about professional regulation can be found here: https://bowriveremploymentlaw.com/professional-regulation/
On May 4, 2021, the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (“CARNA”) cancelled the permit to practice Nursing of member Anshu Mehra (CARNA Member #77,883) for the circumstances of his conviction of criminal sexual assault in his private life.
The Mehra decision is important for several reasons. First, cancellation of a permit to practice is very serious. Second, Mehra had already resigned as a CARNA member and undertaken not to practice prior to this hearing, but they proceeded with the hearing and punishment anyway.
The hearing tribunal summarized the facts from the criminal case, which it accepted as having occurred, as follows:
Conduct Counsel referred to the reasons for judgment in the criminal matter […]. The Regulated Member attended at the dentist. He was getting his teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist. He was lying supine in the chair and initiated discussions with the dental hygienist of a personal and sexual nature. He reached behind himself and grabbed her inner thigh and stomach. The dental hygienist’s evidence was accepted, and the Court found the Regulated Member’s actions were not consensual and constituted sexual assault. The Regulated Member’s evidence that she consented to the touching and that he was reaching to tickle her at her request was rejected (at p 5)
After being criminally convicted, Mehra resigned his membership with CARNA and provided an undertaking not to practice nursing. Mehra did not cooperate and was not present at the CARNA hearing.
The hearing tribunal found that Mehra’s conduct was unprofessional.
The hearing tribunal then weighed the facts in order to arrive at the appropriate penalty. The facts that seemed most important to the tribunal were:
- The nursing profession is held to a high standard, and nurses are in a strong position of trust;
- This was very serious conduct which occurred in a healthcare setting;
- He had 4 previous unrelated sanctions, although they were much less severe;
- He did not cooperate or participate in this hearing.
Ultimately, the tribunal found that his conduct harmed the integrity of the profession, despite happening in his private life (at p 6).
The hearing tribunal imposed the highest penalties in this case. Mehra’s permit was cancelled and he was ordered to pay the full hearing costs, to a maximum of $10,000.
In the last 5 years, I have noticed a bit of an attitudinal shift in the approach that is being taken professional regulatory bodies. In the name of transparency, accountability and protection of the public, they have become considerably more punitive of misconduct and less flexible about whether disciplinary decisions ought to be published.
The Mehra case seems like the obvious and correct result in the circumstances. However, cancelling a permit for something that happened in private life is a major event and worth paying attention to. It is also quite significant that CARNA pursued Mehra despite the fact that he already had been punished via criminal conviction and was no longer going to be a nurse.
If you are a professional who has been accused of professional misconduct, whether you did something wrong or not, you should contact us as soon as possible so we can help you handle it.
CARNA’s Mehra decision can be found at the following link: https://nurses.ab.ca/docs/default-source/conduct/decisions/77883-2021-d1.pdf?sfvrsn=d5783a1a_2