Alexa Turner discusses whether to consider a college complaint
or a lawsuit as part of the Torkin Manes LegalPoint Video
Often clients ask:
What is my best course of action if I want to make sure my
doctor, or other healthcare professional cannot do this to anyone
Doctors and other regulated health professionals licenced to
practice in Ontario are governed by their respective
Colleges. These regulatory Colleges are responsible for any
discipline or sanction of the conduct of its members. Making
a complaint to one of these Colleges (depending on which
professional has committed the alleged misconduct) is the best
course of action if you want to seek any disciplinary
For example, if you want to make a complaint against a doctor,
you would complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Only the College can discipline its doctors, including revoking a
license to practice medicine, for either incompetence or
To make a complaint, you would write a letter to the College of
Physicians and Surgeons indicating who you are; who the doctor was
that you feel did something wrong; provide a chronology or history
of events and give details of your concerns and describe the impact
it has had on you and your family. The College has an
obligation to investigate every complaint made.
Once the College gets your complaint they will undertake an
investigation which could entail ordering all of the relevant
medical records, corresponding with the accused physicians and
other parties who have knowledge of the incident in question and in
some cases, hiring an expert in the relevant field to form an
opinion on the care.
Once they have had a chance to review this documentation and
once they feel they have done a complete investigation, the College
will make a decision based on their conclusions. The College
will not necessarily sanction or discipline the physician in
question. If the College does decide to impose any
disciplinary action, it will be outlined in the decision.
If you are unhappy with the decision, you can appeal it and
doctors also have a right to appeal.
There is no cost to issue a complaint and you can do it without
a lawyer. There is also no statute of limitations for
complaints, which means you can make a complaint at any time after
the incident. However, the College does encourage you
to make a complaint as soon after the events in question so their
investigation can be current and complete. There is no
monetary compensation available under this process because Colleges
do not have jurisdiction to compensate victims of medical
malpractice. In contrast if you are seeking monetary
compensation, a medical malpractice lawsuit is your best course of
The Court is the only vehicle in which to get damages or money
for your losses. Remember the Courts do not have any
jurisdiction to limit the doctor's ability to practice
medicine. If your case does go to trial and the doctor is
found negligent, there will be a written judgment which will impact
the doctor and may affect laws or practices in the future. A
lawsuit although indirectly, can affect how the health profession
So, let me summarize, if you would like a health professional to
be disciplined it is important to complain to the respective
College. If you would like to be financially compensated for
the damages that you sustained for any alleged malpractice, a
lawsuit must be commenced.
Both courses of action can be taken at the same time, however
any information garnered by the regulatory course cannot be used as
evidence in your civil lawsuit. Remember, in cases where a
complaint is made against a physician, the decision of the College
of Physicians and Surgeons does not have any bearing on whether or
not you have a case in negligence civilly.
If you or someone you love have suffered a medical injury, we
are experienced trial lawyers and we can help.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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