Glossary of Terms

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Some of the terms used on the physician profiles in our Find a Doctor search engine reflect language from the medical professions’ governing legislation, the Regulated Health Professions Act, and have a particular meaning in the regulatory environment. This glossary is provided to explain these terms as best as possible in layman’s terms. If you have any questions about the information provided in the Public Register, please contact our Public Advisory Service at 416-967-2603 or 1-800-268-7096, ext. 603.

Academic Practice

  • may practice only in the medical school department in which the physician holds an academic appointment;
  • may practice only to the extent required by the appointment;
  • certificate expires when the academic appointment ends.

Academic Visitor

  • may practice only in the medical school department in which the physician holds an academic appointment;
  • may practice only to the extent required by the appointment;
  • certificate may be issued for up to fifteen months only.

Bail Conditions

Effective December 4, 2014, the College By-laws require that where a member, following a charge for a criminal or provincial offence or subsequent to a finding of guilt and pending appeal, has any currently existing conditions of release ("bail conditions") that relate to the member’s practice of medicine and are known to the College, they be posted on the public register.

Cautions

A “caution” is one of the dispositions that the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) may make in connection with a matter before it, and this disposition requires the member to appear before a panel of the Committee to be cautioned.

For decisions in which the disposition includes a “caution”, the College By-laws require that a summary of the decision be posted on the public register. If the decision has been appealed, this will be noted as well; and if the decision is overturned on appeal or review, the summary will be removed from the register.

Note this posting requirement applies only to decisions arising from a complaint received on or after January 1, 2015; or if there was no complaint, the first appointment of College investigators dated on or after January 1, 2015.

Certificate of Registration

A “certificate of registration” or medical licence, is issued by the College and provides authorization to practise medicine in Ontario. There are various categories or “classes” of certificates of registration and each describes the type of practice permitted. The physician’s registration class is shown under “Current Registration” at the top of their profile page.

Concerns

The Search Results or Doctor Details may display a flag indicating an existing concern(s) about the physician.

“Concerns” include the following types of matters:

  • Suspensions
  • Cautions
  • Specified Continuing Education and Remediation Programs (SCERPs)
  • Criminal Charges
  • Bail Conditions
  • Criminal Findings
  • Discipline Findings in Other Jurisdictions
  • Practice Limitations (also known as Non-standard Terms, Conditions and Limitations)
  • Revocation
  • Pending Discipline Committee hearing

For further description of these matters, see the entry for each in the glossary.

Criminal Charges

Effective May 29, 2015, the College By-laws require that where a member has been charged with an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Ontario Health Insurance Act and the charge is outstanding and known to the College, the following be posted on the public register:

  • the fact and content of the charge; and
  • date and place of the charge, if known to the College.

Criminal Findings

If, on or after June 1, 2015, a member is found guilty under the Criminal Code of Canada or of an offence under the Ontario Health Insurance Act, the College By-laws require the following be posted on the public register if the information is known to the College:

  • summary of the finding of guilt;
  • the sentence;
  • a notation that the finding is under appeal (if applicable and if the College knows of the appeal; the notation will remain until the appeal is finally disposed of; and
  • dates of the finding of guilt, sentence and appeal.

Discipline Findings in Other Jurisdictions

Where a medical regulatory or licensing authority in a jurisdiction outside Ontario makes a disciplinary finding on or after September 1, 2015 against a physician who is a member of the College, certain information about the finding will be posted on the register, if the finding is known to the College. The information to be posted includes the following:

  • the fact of the finding
  • the date of the finding, where known to the College
  • the jurisdiction in which the finding was made
  • the date upon which the College was notified of the finding
  • the existence and status of any appeal, when known to the College

Former Name(s)

Includes only the former names of the physician that have been previously entered in the register. (Names that are not used in a physician’s practice are not posted on the register. For example, if a physician marries and changes their surname, but continues to use their single name for practice purposes, the married name would not be entered in the register.) Former names used before the physician’s registration with the College are not shown.

General Practitioner

  • In the mid-1990s, it became a requirement of registration in Ontario for new family physicians to be certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (see Specialty Designation).
  • Family physicians who trained prior to 1993 are deemed general practitioners. They have the option of gaining certification through a practice-eligibility route, but it is not mandatory. If a physician is a general practitioner, the Specialties designation section of their profile page will indicate “none”.
  • For Ontario graduates, certification is gained after residency training. 

Hospital Privileges

The register sets out the hospitals in Ontario where physicians have privileges. “Hospital privileges” is a term generally used to indicate the appointment of a physician to the staff of a hospital. Hospital privileges provide a physician with access to the hospital’s facilities, and they also specify the types of procedures a physician may perform in the hospital. The process for granting, changing and terminating hospital privileges are set out in a hospital’s by-laws.

Independent Practice

This certificate permits independent practice in the areas of medicine in which the physician is educated and experienced. Approximately 80% of doctors in Ontario have this class of certificate. It is usually obtained after postgraduate residency medical training is completed and is held throughout their medical career.

Languages Spoken

The languages in which the physician is able to provide service.  This is self-reported by the physician.

Member-reported Findings of Malpractice or Professional Negligence 

On June 4, 2009, Section 23 of the Health Professions Procedural Code, which is Schedule 2 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, was revised to now require doctors to report to the College findings of malpractice or professional negligence. Any such finding is noted on the public register (see the “Concerns” section of their profile).

Out-of-Hospital Premises (OHP) Medical Director

The OHP must appoint a Medical Director (a physician holding a certificate of registration from the College). The Medical Director who is responsible for all aspects of running an OHP. This includes:

  • hiring appropriately qualified staff;
  • ensuring all the policy and procedures are in place and up-to-date; and
  • working with the College to address any matters that arise in the context of an inspection.

OHP Nurse Assessment Coordinator (NAC)

The Nurse Assessment Coordinator is responsible for the overall coordination of the inspection of out-of-hospital premises (OHP). He or she ensures:

  • the premises is prepared for an inspection;
  • all of the components of an inspection are complete; and
  • any necessary follow-up on items identified through the inspection process is completed. 

OHP Premises Inspection Committee (PIC) 

This Committee of the College governs the premises inspection program and is responsible for:

  • approving policies;
  • ensuring assessors are appointed to complete inspections; and
  • reviewing inspection reports and determining outcomes.

Out-of-Hospital Premises (OHP) Registry

The College also conducts inspection/assessments of “out-of-hospital premises” where certain procedures are carried out in the community setting under anaesthesia or sedation. We maintain a registry of all premises that have been inspected under the program.

Pending Discipline Hearing

If the Doctor Details for a physician indicate “Pending Discipline Hearing,” this means that allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence against the physician have been referred to the Discipline Committee, and a hearing will be held for the purposes of deciding if the physician has committed an act of professional misconduct or is incompetent, as the case may be.

Postgraduate Education

This type of certificate:

  • permits supervised practice after graduation from medical school, and is required for postgraduate (residency) medical training at an Ontario medical school;
  • may practice only as required by the postgraduate education program in which the physician is enrolled at an Ontario medical school;
  • may prescribe drugs only for in-patients or out-patients of a clinical teaching unit of the medical school;
  • may not charge a fee for medical services; and
  • expires when enrolment in postgraduate medical education ceases. 
     

Postgraduate Training

Includes postgraduate medical training appointments in which the physician was enrolled at an Ontario medical school. Physicians must be registered with the College, usually under the Postgraduate Education registration class, to engage in a postgraduate medical training appointment in Ontario. Note that postgraduate training completed outside Ontario is not included.

Practice Restrictions

If the Doctor Details for a physician indicate “Practice Restrictions,” this means that the physician’s certificate of registration has additional terms, conditions and limitations (TCLs) imposed on it. The additional TCLs are fully shown in the Practice Restrictions section.  Certain College committees (Registration, Discipline, Fitness to Practice or Inquiries, Complaints and Reports ) are authorized to impose to impose TCLs on a certificate of registration. TCLs may also be imposed by way of a physician’s Undertaking to the College (see “Undertaking” in the glossary for more information).

Whenever these “non-standard” terms, conditions and limitations are imposed on a certificate, it automatically becomes a restricted certificate. Examples include:

  • Discipline; Fitness to Practise; and Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committees: Both the Discipline Committee, which hears allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence, and the Fitness to Practise Committee, which hears allegations of incapacity, can order that terms, conditions and limitations be imposed on a physician’s certificate of registration. When TCLs are ordered by either committee, the specified restrictions are included on the public register. The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)* can make an interim order to impose terms, conditions and limitations on the physician’s certificate of registration, after it has referred specified allegations to the Discipline Committee or after it has made a referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee. TCLs imposed by the ICRC will appear on the public register for as long as they remain in force.
  • Registration Committee: The Registration Committee of the College has the authority to grant a restricted certificate of registration in certain circumstances (for example, to individuals who have not successfully completed all of the examination requirements). In these circumstances, specified terms, conditions and limitations are ordered to safeguard the public (for example, monitoring or supervisory arrangements prior to completing all examinations or successful completion of a practice assessment). When TCLs are ordered by the Registration Committee, the specified restrictions are included on the public register.

Professional Corporations

Members of the College are permitted under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, to establish a professional corporation in Ontario for the purpose of practising medicine. All professional corporations must obtain a Certificate of Authorization from the College before commencing practice.

If a member has a professional corporation and the corporation holds an active Certificate of Authorization, the public register will display the name of the corporation and will show the status of the Certificate of Authorization as “Issued” with the effective date. The public register will also list all the physicians who are current shareholders of the corporation and are members of the College.

If a member’s corporation held a Certificate of Authorization that is no longer active, the public register will show the status as “Revoked.” This means that the corporation’s certificate of authorization has been cancelled in accordance with the administrative (non-disciplinary) process set out in Ontario Regulation 39/02 made under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

Registration History

Registration history shows the classes of certificate of registration held by the physician, including dates of issuance and expiry, expiry type, and date of changes to terms, conditions and limitations.

Restricted Certificate

A physician with a restricted certificate must practice in accordance with the specific terms and conditions imposed on the certificate.

Revocation

A physician’s certificate of registration may be revoked by order of the College’s Discipline Committee on grounds of professional misconduct or incompetence, or by the Fitness to Practise Committee on grounds of incapacity. Once revoked, the physician is no longer allowed to practice medicine in Ontario. The revoked certificate of registration cannot be reinstated other than by order of the Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee, as applicable, the Executive Committee or Council.

Short Duration Certificate

  • may practice only to the extent required by the short duration appointment at a public hospital, psychiatric facility or medical school;
  • must practice under supervision;
  • certificate valid for up to thirty days only; and
  • issued only to fill urgent, short-term need, or to provide education to Ontario physicians. 

Specialty Designation

Doctors practising as specialists must be:

  • Certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) in a specialty or subspecialty of the profession to which the term, title or designation relates (for example, obstetrics and gynecology; cardiology; orthopedic surgery; or dermatology);
  • Certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) in a specialty or subspecialty of the profession to which the term, title or designated relates (i.e., family medicine); or
  • Formally recognized in writing by the College as a specialist in the specialty or subspecialty of the profession to which the term, title or designation relates.

Specialty Designation: CFPC Certification

  • Granted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), the national examining and certifying body for family medicine practitioners in Canada.
  • CFPC also accredits family medicine training programs in Canada.
  • If a doctor is certified by the CFPC, “family medicine” is noted on their profile page under “Specialties”.

Specialty Designation: CPSO Recognized Specialist

  • Granted by the College to doctors who are not certified by the CFPC or RCPSC, but meet the criteria specified in the College's registration policy, Specialist Recognition Criteria in Ontario. If a physician has CPSO Recognized Specialist status, this status and the area (e.g., family medicine, cardiology, internal medicine) in which the physician is recognized as a specialist is noted on his or her profile page under “Specialties”.

Specialty Designation: RCPSC Certification

  • Granted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the national examining and certifying body for medical specialists in Canada.
  • RCPSC also accredits Canadian specialty training programs. 
  • If a doctor is certified by the RCPSC, the disciplines (e.g., obstetrics and gynecology; cardiology; orthopedic surgery; dermatology) in which the physician is certified are noted on his or her profile page under “Specialties”.

General Practitioners

  • Doctors who do not have any specialty designation are considered General Practitioners, and the “Specialties” section of their profile page will indicate “none”.

Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP)

A Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program or “SCERP” is one of the dispositions the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) and Quality Assurance Committee may make in connection with a matter before them. This disposition requires the member to complete an education and remediation program specified for the member.

If the disposition of an ICRC decision includes a SCERP, the College By-laws require that a summary of the decision be posted on the public register along with the elements of the SCERP. Note this requirement only applies to ICRC decisions arising from a complaint dated on or after January 1, 2015 or if there was no complaint, the first appointment of College investigators dated on or after January 1, 2015. If the decision has been appealed, this will be noted as well; and if the decision is overturned on appeal or review, the summary will be removed from the register.

If the disposition of a Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) decision includes a SCERP, the College By-laws require that the elements of the SCERP be posted on the public register. Note that this requirement only applies to QAC decisions made on or after June 1, 2016.

In both cases, a notation will also be posted on the register when all elements of the SCERP have been completed.

Suspension

A physician’s certificate of registration may be suspended by order of certain College committees, namely, the Discipline Committee, Fitness to Practise Committee and the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee. Upon suspension, the physician must immediately cease practising medicine and may not resume practice until the suspension is removed. A certificate of registration may also be suspended by the Registrar if the physician does not comply with certain requirements, such paying a fee or submitting certain required information.

Terms, Conditions and Limitations (TCLs)

  • Terms, conditions, and limitations describes the conditions under which doctors can practise medicine, and are categorized as "standard" and "non-standard."
  • Both standard and non-standard TCLs are shown under “Terms and Conditions” on the “Registration Details” page. The non-standard TCLs are referred to as “Practice Restrictions” in this glossary.

TCLs: Standard

Every certificate under every registration class carries the standard term, condition and limitation that the physician may practise only in the areas of medicine in which he or she is educated and experienced. For the independent practice class, this is the only term, condition and limitation. For other registration classes, there are additional standard terms, conditions and limitations that apply. The Postgraduate Education class, for example, includes an additional standard term that the physician may practise only as required by the educational program.

Undertakings

  • An “Undertaking” is a binding and enforceable agreement by a physician to the College that sets out one or more obligations or restrictions on the physician (for example, the physician may agree to cease to practise medicine until a condition is met; to abide by practice restrictions; to practise under clinical supervision; or to resign their licence and never apply for reinstatement in Ontario or apply for a licence in another jurisdiction).
  • The College will only accept an Undertaking if the College decides that such an agreement is appropriate in the circumstances and protects the public interest. A physician may enter an Undertaking to restrict his/her practice where there has been a concern raised about that practice area and the physician is prepared to make an agreement to practice differently — or not practice at all — thus protecting the public. A physician may also give an Undertaking to the College when re-entering practice after an absence from clinical practice or as part of the registration process with the College.