The College recognizes that it is essential that we do what is necessary to protect the privacy of those involved in the complaints and investigation process and to respect the confidentiality of information we collect.
The College takes steps to:
- limit the information that we collect to that which is relevant and necessary for a thorough investigation of concerns that are brought to our attention; and
- ensure that information concerning complaints and investigations is kept confidential.
We suggest that complainants and physicians take their own steps to protect their privacy such as when making or responding to a complaint, providing detailed information regarding precisely what aspect of the care or conduct is of concern and the time frame during which the pertinent events occurred so that the investigation can focus on only that which is relevant.
Some of the steps the College takes include:
- We require all staff and committee members and consultants retained to assist in an investigation to sign confidentiality agreements which reinforce the strict confidentiality obligations The Medical Act imposes on them.
- Although the College has authority to access medical information to investigate a complaint, our practice is to request that complainants sign our Authorization for Release of Medical Information Form, which we use to obtain medical information from the physician who is the subject of the complaint and other physicians or health care professionals and health care facilities involved in your care.
- All inquiries about active complaints and investigations from members of the public are handled in the following manner:
- The College will neither confirm nor deny that a complaint has been received or that an investigation is under way, unless it is necessary for the purpose of the College’s investigation.
- We will not provide any information to anyone other than complainants or the physicians who are the subject of a complaint, including anyone who claims to be inquiring on their behalf, other than their legal counsel, unless it is necessary for the purpose of the College’s investigation.
- The meetings of Complaints and Investigation Committees at which complaints are considered are not open to the public.
- The decisions of the Complaints and Investigation Committees are not made available to the public, with the exception of Censures in respect to which our Publication Policies are applied.
- If a complaint leads to formal charges against a physician, complainants and others with relevant information may be asked to participate in an Inquiry as witnesses. Hearings before Inquiry Panels are usually open to the public and the decisions that follow are published. However, decisions do not ordinarily identify patient names and where sensitive information is involved:
- the hearings may be closed; and/or
- publication bans may be imposed on portions of the evidence and/or the decision.
For detailed information about what is published, see our Publication Policies.