Investigation Committee

Detailed information regarding the composition, authority and formal requirements of the Investigation Committee is contained in its Terms of Reference.

Matters are referred to the Investigation Committee:

  • by the Complaints Committee:
    • where a complainant who is not satisfied with the Complaints Committee’s decision in relation to his/her complaint requests that the matter be reviewed by the Investigation Committee;
    • where a matter is not suitable for informal resolution and the medical consultant is of the opinion that a matter should be referred immediately to the Investigation Committee;
  • by the Registrar.

The Investigation Committee generally oversees the investigation of matters that have been referred to it and meets regularly to review the cases once the investigation is complete.

1.   Investigation

  • Appointment of Investigator
    The medical consultant to the investigation committee conducts the investigation in most circumstances.
  • Investigation
    The investigator begins the investigation by examining:

    • the complaint,
    • the physician’s response,
    • other relevant information, which may include medical records.

Depending on the nature of the case, the investigator may take further steps to investigate the complaint, such as:

  • accessing and reviewing other records,
  • conducting interviews,
  • consulting with experts,
  • meeting with the complainant and/or interviewing the physician if additional information or clarification of the complaint is required.

The investigator also has the power to apply to the court to compel the production of things or records that may assist in the investigation.

2.   Investigation Committee Meeting

  • Method of Review – The Investigation Committee does not meet with the complainant or the physician.  It conducts a review of the documentation only.
    Usually, that involves considering:

    • the complaint;
    • the physician’s response to the complaint;
    • the complainant’s reply to the response from the physician, if any;
    • other records and documents relevant to the complaint that have been collected by the medical consultant and/or investigator, such as the record of the care provided to the complainant by the physician, summaries of interviews and consultants’ reports;
    • a summary of the issues and pertinent factors; and
    • the physician’s response to the investigator’s report, if one is received.

Possible Outcomes:

The Investigation Committee may:

  • decide that no further action be taken;
  • provide advise where the committee believes the physician would benefit from guidance or about how to improve their care or conduct;
  • criticize a physician.  The committee understands that the vast majority of physicians take any criticism made by the Investigation Committee very seriously and take steps to improve their practice.  For this reason, criticism is frequently sufficient to achieve improvement;
  • accept a written agreement signed by the physician to participate in remedial education or to accept terms and conditions of practice;
  • determine that the physician be issued a censure.  A censure:
    • is a form of discipline issued by resolution of the Investigation Committee;
    • constitutes a reprimand or condemnation by peers of specified conduct by a physician of the College;
    • cannot be unilaterally imposed by the Investigation Committee. The physician must agree to accept it;
    • forms part of the physician’s discipline record with the College and may be referred to in any subsequent discipline proceedings against that physician;
  • refer the matter to the Inquiry Committee of the College for a hearing;
  • accept surrender of the physician’s  licence; or
  • take any other appropriate action, including providing the physician with direction or advice.
  • Communication of Investigation Committee Decision
    The complainant and the physician are informed, in writing, of the Investigation Committee’s decision and the reasons for its decision.  The Notice of Decision is sent to the complainant by Registered Mail.
  • Appeals
    The complainant has a right of appeal to the Appeal Panel of the Executive Committee. The physician does not. The appeal is to be made in writing to the Registrar, setting out the reasons for the appeal, and must be submitted within 30 days after the date the complainant is notified of the Investigation Committee’s decision.  The College has no authority to extend this deadline.