The College takes privacy and confidentiality very seriously. We recognize that it is essential to protect the privacy of people involved in the complaints process and we are committed to keeping the information we collect confidential.
The College takes steps to:
- limit the information that we collect to what is relevant and necessary for a thorough investigation of concerns; and
- ensure that information concerning complaints and investigations is kept confidential.
To further assist with privacy and to help us focus only on what is relevant, we suggest that complainants provide detailed information regarding precisely what aspect of the care or conduct is of concern and the time frame during which the events occurred. Likewise, physicians should provide a response that fully addresses the concerns without introducing information that does not contribute to a review of the concern.
Some of the steps the College takes to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the information we collect are set out below. Some of them are required by The Regulated Health Professions Act:
- We require everyone involved in the complaints and investigation process to sign confidentiality agreements which reinforce the strict confidentiality obligations of The Personal Health Information Act.
- Although the College has authority to access medical information to investigate a complaint, our usual 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 from other physicians, health care professionals and/or health care facilities involved in your care. There are very limited circumstances where we do not obtain consent.
- 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 the Complaints and Investigation Committees are not open to the public.
- The decisions of the Complaints and Investigations Committees are not made available to the public, with the exception of Censures 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 usually published, however, the College takes measures to protect the identity of patients, 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.