Step by Step Through the Process
The complaints and investigation process reflects the College’s view that complaints about physicians represent an opportunity to address not only the concerns of the individual complainants and the perspective of the individual physicians involved, but also the public interest that competent physicians provide quality care in a professional manner for the benefit of the public.
What follows is a detailed explanation of the process that will be followed if you submit a complaint about a physician to the College.
- You submit your complaint
Unless the concern is a simple inquiry handled over the telephone through a brief exchange of correspondence or referral to another organization, a more extensive process must be initiated by a written complaint before it will be investigated. See Submitting a Complaint
- We contact you
Upon receipt of your written complaint, we will open a file and the matter will be assigned to a medical consultant of the College who will contact you:
- acknowledging receipt of your complaint;
- clarifying your concerns and obtaining additional information, if necessary; and
- where appropriate, attempting to resolve and/or address your concerns.
If your complaint is not resolved, you will be sent a brochure about the Complaints Committee and its processes and advised in writing that:
- your complaint has been referred to the Complaints Committee ;
- your letter of complaint has been sent to the physician who is the subject of your complaint for response;
- you will be informed of the decision of the Complaints Committee at the conclusion of its review.
Although the College has authority to access your medical information to investigate your complaint, our practice is to request that you sign our Authorization for Release of Medical Information form, which we use to obtain your 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.
- We Notify the Physician
A medical consultant will notify the physician either by telephone or by letter that a complaint has been received. If informal resolution is not possible at this stage, the medical consultant will send a copy of your letter of complaint to the physician and require a response from the physician within thirty days:
- addressing the substance of the complaint;
- including pertinent particulars;
- providing the record of the care provided to you.
- The Physician Responds
The physician will respond in writing. Usually, the physician explains his/her care or conduct and provides his/her version of the events leading to the complaint. For more detailed information regarding the physician’s response go to The Physician’s Response to a Complaint.
- You are informed of the Physician’s Response
The physician’s response will be sent to you for comment. If you wish to comment, we ask that you do so, in writing, within thirty days. Your response will not be forwarded to the physician at this time, unless further clarification is required. The physician’s explanation may satisfy your concerns and resolve the complaint. If not, the process continues.
- Investigation of the Complaint
A medical consultant will conduct a complete investigation, including reviewing all relevant medical information and prepare the documentation for review by the Complaints Committee.
- Immediate Referral to the Investigation Committee
In serious cases, where the Registrar or a Medical Consultant is of the opinion that a matter should be referred immediately to the Investigation Committee, the Chair of the Complaints Committee has authority to approve an immediate referral.
- Referral to the Complaints Committee
Based on a review of the documentation provided, the Complaints Committee will consider the complaint. Normally, neither you nor the physician will meet with the Committee. For a detailed review of the Complaints Committee adjudication process, go to Complaints Committee.
- Notification of the Decision
You and the physician will be provided with written notice of the decision of the Complaints Committee.
- Appeal to the Investigation Committee
You have a right of appeal from the Complaints Committee decision to the Investigation Committee. The physician does not. You must exercise the right of appeal within thirty days of notification of the Committee’s decision, setting forth the reasons you are not satisfied with the decision. The Investigation Committee will conduct its own in depth review of the matter. See Investigation Committee for more information on the process following receipt of an appeal from a Complaints Committee Decision. The Investigation Committee will reach a decision and both you and the physician will receive written notice of that decision.
- Appeal to the Appeal Committee
You have a right of Appeal from the Investigation Committee’s decision to an Appeal Committee of the College. The physician does not. You and the physician will be notified in writing of the Appeal Committee’s decision.