Receiving a complaint from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) can be an unsettling experience. As a medical professional, you know what a complaint can do to your reputation, especially if you don’t respond to a professional college complaint appropriately. For this reason, Posner Craig Stein LLP, licensing and professional discipline lawyers in Toronto, recommend you get assistance with your response to ensure the best possible outcome.
Professional College Complaint Process
When the CPSO receives a complaint, which can come from a patient or anyone with whom you’ve interacted, the agency’s Investigations and Resolutions Department will conduct an initial investigation to gather information surrounding the complaint. When that investigation is concluded, the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (ICRC) will convene a panel to review your file and determine how to proceed.
The panel may decide that the incident requires further investigation or it may determine that the complaint is frivolous, in which case, ICRC can decline investigation. Either way, the ICRC must let both you and the complainant know the outcome of their review and allow a response within 30 days. Regardless of your opinion on the legitimacy of the complaint, it is recommended you always provide a response.
Once you submit your response, the ICRC will continue its investigation, which might include interviewing you and the complainant. When the investigation is concluded, they will provide their findings in a written reply that will include one of five outcomes:
- Take no further action
- Caution you before the ICRC
- Inquire into your professional capacity
- Refer the incident to the Discipline Committee
- Take other action as appropriate
In the written reply, you will typically receive reasons for the ICRC’s decision, except if your case is referred to the Discipline Committee.
Crafting a Response
The response to the ICRC is likely the only opportunity you will get to address the complaint with the ICRC, so it needs to be comprehensive and effective. You might not have the chance to add more details later, and oral responses are almost never allowed, so everything pertinent to the incident must be included in the initial written response.
Writing an effective response is time consuming and challenging, especially since you only have 30 days to do it. This is where a lawyer who specializes in licensing and professional discipline can help. They will make sure your response is complete and includes a full account of the incident, the complainant’s medical records (except when a third-party is involved), and any other evidence related to the matter.
While ICRC decisions are open to review with the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB), it is very difficult to get decisions overturned. As such, the importance of your response is magnified because it will be considered for both the ICRC investigation and the appeal.
Discipline decisions and oral cautions are available to anyone viewing your online profile, which means your reputation is on the line when you receive a complaint. A negative outcome will impact you both professionally and personally, so don’t leave your future to chance. Have an experienced licensing and professional discipline lawyer assist you with your response to any complaint you receive.