Sexual Abuse Complaints
Do you think a doctor may have crossed a line with you or otherwise engaged in sexual misconduct or abuse? Please call us.
Do you think you have experienced sexual abuse by an Ontario doctor? Please call us at 1-800-268-7096, ext. 629.
As Ontario’s medical regulator, the CPSO investigates all complaints against doctors in the province — including sexual abuse complaints. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual contact between a doctor and a patient — even when that contact would otherwise be considered consensual.
What kinds of concerns does the College address?
Complaints of a sexual nature may involve:
- Privacy and respect
- Inappropriate comments or gestures
- Unnecessary or improper physical exams: sexual contact or abuse
What happens when I contact the College?
First you’ll speak with our Intake Coordinator about what’s involved. She has training in sexual abuse and is sensitive to what you’ve been through. You can speak to her anonymously, or arrange to meet with her in person by calling 1-800-268-7096, ext. 629.
If you decide to go ahead with your complaint, the matter is transferred to an investigator for a formal investigation. The investigator will contact you and ask you to describe what happened in as much detail as possible. You’ll also be asked to sign a consent form so we can obtain your medical records.
What about confidentiality?
Coming forward with a complaint about sexual abuse can be incredibly difficult. We recognize that concerns about privacy may be foremost in your mind. While you can contact the College anonymously and make general inquiries, once you reveal the doctor’s identity, we may need to act on that information. The reason is the College has an overriding obligation to protect the public. You should be aware that if we proceed with an investigation, we must disclose your name to the doctor who is being investigated so that the doctor has an opportunity to respond.
What happens when the College receives a complaint?
- We notify the doctor of the complaint.
- An investigator gathers information related to the complaint. They may contact other people to learn more about what happened. With your consent, the investigator may also obtain documents such as hospital, OHIP or pharmaceutical records.
- Your doctor has a chance to respond to the complaint.
- The investigator then submits a report to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee. The Committee reviews all of the information and decides what should happen.
- The College may or may not take further action. We may choose to:
- Give them advice on how to conduct themselves in the future.
- Ask the doctor to agree to training to improve their practice.
- Caution the doctor and perhaps require them to take steps to avoid future difficulties.
- Refer the concerns about the physician to the Discipline Committee.
What happens if my complaint is referred to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons Discipline Tribunal?
Disciplinary hearings at the OPSDT are much like court proceedings:
- A CPSO lawyer is appointed to prosecute your case.
- A panel of doctors and members of the public hear evidence on both sides and make a ruling based on that evidence.
- You may be asked to testify. Both the College’s lawyer and the doctor’s lawyer may ask you questions.
- The public and the media may be allowed to attend the hearing, and the media can publish the name of the doctor.
- If you want to protect your privacy, you can request a publication ban of your name.
Coming forward can be incredibly difficult, but there are good reasons for reporting:
- You could help us ensure that what happened to you does not happen to someone else.
- Having your complaint taken seriously may help you find closure and healing.
- Speaking publicly about your experience might encourage other sexual abuse victims to speak up.
Is there funding for therapy?
Yes. If you meet the criteria, you may be eligible for funding for counselling or therapy. In fact, filing a complaint with the College alleging your doctor sexually abused you is one of the eligibility criteria. Learn more about Funding for Therapy and Counselling online or call 416-967-2600 / 1-800-268-7096 ext. 211.
Contact the College
Again, if you think you experienced sexual abuse by an Ontario doctor, we urge you to contact us at 1-800-268-7096, ext. 629.
If you have more general questions about the complaints process, we encourage you to call one of our Public Advisors at 1-800-268-7096, ext. 603 or email us at [email protected].