Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Helping you and your doctor resolve your concern without the need for a lengthy investigation

When the CPSO receives a complaint, we always review it carefully before deciding how to proceed. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is one complaint resolution option.

ADR allows you, the doctor and a CPSO mediator to resolve a complaint without an investigation. The CPSO mediator will contact you to discuss your complaint and will notify the doctor. If the complaint is eligible for ADR, the mediator will ask you if you agree to the process to attempt to resolve your complaint without an investigation. If both you and the doctor agree, and the CPSO registrar approves the use of ADR, the mediator will work with you and the doctor to try to resolve the complaint.

What types of complaints can we resolve with ADR?

Straightforward complaints that are eligible for ADR include:

  • Some communication concerns
  • Consent issues
  • Access to or transfer of a patient’s medical records
  • Practice management issues such as wait times and booking appointments
  • Financial issues such as block fees, charging for missed or cancelled appointments or for completion of medical notes and forms
  • Some clinical issues, such as concerns you may have about assessment, diagnosis, treatment and/or follow-up

What types of complaints can we not resolve with ADR?

  • Any complaint involving an allegation of sexual abuse. The CPSO always investigates these types of concerns.
  • Any complaint that we have already referred to the CPSO’s Discipline Committee.
  • Complaints that raise serious concerns about a doctor’s competence, capacity to practise or conduct concerns such as criminal behaviour or boundary violations.

What are the benefits of ADR?

  • Satisfaction surveys have shown that people are more satisfied when we have resolved their complaint before it reaches the investigation stage.
  • ADR is quicker than an investigation. Under legislation, we must resolve the complaint with ADR within 120 days of receiving it. ADR quickly resolves concerns in a way that both you and the doctor can agree on.
  • If you and the doctor reach a resolution, it is one that you have chosen together. By contrast, if we formally investigate your complaint, the CPSO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (the Committee) will choose its outcome for you.
  • With ADR, you do not need to wait for a written committee decision. Our registrar will promptly review any resolution that you reach with the doctor and, if approved, will close the complaint.
  • At any time during ADR, you can ask the CPSO to formally investigate your complaint.

What kinds of resolutions can ADR reach?

Sometimes, after hearing a doctor’s response to your complaint, you may be satisfied with the outcome/discussion and wish to resolve the case without any other steps.

In some cases, doctors may agree to make changes or improvements to their practice. Doctors may also agree to engage in some form of education or have a discussion with one of the CPSO’s medical advisors about ways in which they might improve their practice. In other cases, a doctor may apologize to the complainant.

What happens if we can’t reach a resolution?

If you and the doctor are unable to reach a resolution, the CPSO will investigate your complaint and submit it to the Committee for a decision. This is also the process if you and the doctor cannot reach a resolution within 120 days.