The Investigation Committee oversees the handling of all investigations through an established process, much of which is required by legislation.
The Investigation Committee is made up of 3 people; two are doctors and one is a member of the public who does not work in healthcare. The chairperson is a councillor of the College. The Committee’s role is to oversee the investigation of complaints and decide the most appropriate outcome.
More information about the 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 asks to have the matter be reviewed by the Investigation Committee;
- where a matter is not suitable for informal resolution or the matter warrants further investigation, including the possibility of an expert opinion; or,
- the medical consultant is of the opinion that a matter should be referred immediately to the Investigation Committee; or
- by the Registrar when information is received that raises a concern about the care or conduct of a physician, but the person providing the information is not the patient or legal representative.
The Investigation Committee oversees the investigation of matters that have been referred to it and meets regularly to discuss investigation reports and make a decision.
What happens during an investigation?
The Committee appoints an investigator to investigate the complaint. The investigator will examine:
- 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 has the authority to request documents from anyone who has relevant information.
The investigation process can take quite some time depending on all of the above factors and it is difficult to predict how long an individual investigation will take. We strive to be efficient without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation.
If you wish, our Public Support Advisor will keep in touch with you throughout the process to answer questions and let you know when important steps are completed.
The Investigation Committee Meeting:
The Investigation Committee receives the investigator’s report before the meeting and discusses the various issues at the meeting. The meeting is not open to members of the public and neither the complainant nor the doctor can attend.
After the investigation is done, there are a number of possible outcomes. The Investigation Committee can decide to:
- take no further action;
- provide advice where the committee believes the physician would benefit from guidance 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;
- issue a censure to the doctor (a public reprimand that becomes part of the doctor’s public disciplinary record);
- accept a written agreement from the doctor to address specific concerns (such as participating in education or having restrictions on their practice);
- accept the voluntary surrender of the doctor’s registration;
- refer the matter to the Inquiry Committee for a disciplinary hearing; or
- take another appropriate action.
Communication of the 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.
The decision of the Investigation Committee can be appealed if complainants are not satisfied with the outcome. This must be done in writing within 30 days of being notified of the decision. The Regulated Health Professions Act outlines this process in subsection 108(2) and the College cannot change the deadline. Physicians cannot appeal.
If you have any questions or require clarification, please contact our Public Support Advisor by phone or email. The contact information is found in your letter of acknowledgment from the Investigation Department.