Any member of the public can make a complaint against a dentist. It must be made in writing, online or in another recorded medium. It cannot be anonymous.
The parties to the complaint are the dentist and the person who filed the complaint (the complainant). The College assigns an investigator to review the complaint and gather information.
RCDSO sends a copy of the complaint to the dentist and requests the dentist’s records, as well as a response to the complaint. The College also routinely asks the dentist to provide a verbatim typed transcript of their chart notes. Some dentists choose to have a lawyer help them with this process.
Some complaints may be resolved through the College’s confidential Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. ADR is used only if both parties agree to take part.
All correspondence submitted by a party during an investigation is disclosed to the other party. Both parties receive a copy of the entire record of investigation once the investigation is complete and have an opportunity to submit comments. At that stage, a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports (ICR) Committee deliberates on the file.
ICRC panels are comprised of both dentists and public members of Council appointed by the provincial government. As part our ongoing transparency initiatives, the College is providing the public and dentists with more information about how the ICRC makes decisions. In evaluating cases, the ICRC uses a risk assessment framework to guide panels in reaching an outcome. This means that in evaluating each and every complaint and Registrar’s investigation report, the panels consider the degree of risk to patient safety. Panels will explain their analysis of risk in their written reasons for decision, which each party will receive.
After deliberating on a file, the Committee may take any action it considers appropriate. The outcomes available to the panel are:
- No action
- Provide the dentist with advice and recommendations
- Ask the member to enter into a voluntary remedial agreement
- Ask the member to enter into a voluntary undertaking to resign or to restrict his or her practice
- Require the dentist to complete a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP)
- Require the dentist to appear before the panel in person to receive a caution
- Refer specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
- Refer the member to a panel of the ICR Committee for incapacity proceedings.
The ICR Committee does not have jurisdiction to order any financial compensation.
Unless the panel of the ICR Committee decides to refer allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee or to refer the conduct for incapacity proceedings, the panel must provide reasons with its written decision. A copy of the decision and reasons will be sent to the parties.
For most of these decisions, both parties have the right to appeal on the grounds that the investigation was inadequate and/or the decision is unreasonable. Appeals are heard by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) which is independent from the College. HPARB panels do not include any health professionals.