Complaints and Concerns
If you have a concern about the care or treatment you received from your doctor, we want to help.
One of our most important responsibilities is to respond to concerns and investigate complaints regarding care received by Ontario doctors.
What CPSO can help you with:
- Concerns of inadequate care by your physician;
- Poor or unprofessional conduct by your physician; and/or
- Sexual abuse or inappropriate conduct by your physician.
Matters outside of CPSO’s role:
- Finding a family doctor;
- Concerns or frustrations regarding the health system or hospital system (i.e., wait times for surgeries, specialty care, access to care, etc.);
- Concerns about care provided by other health professionals (i.e., non-physician members of a health care team);
- Awarding financial damages; and/or
- Intervening in your care.
Before you make a complaint
Before calling CPSO to file a complaint, we encourage you to try to resolve the issue with your physician first, where appropriate. You can also:
- Speak to the patient experience representative from the hospital where you or your loved one received care.
- Speak to the administration from the Family Health Team where your physician practices.
- Get in touch with the Ontario Patient Ombudsman. The Patient Ombudsman’s role is to respond to and help resolve complaints from current or former patients or their caregivers about their care or experiences with public hospitals, long-term care homes, and home and community care support service organizations.
- If your complaint is about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), please contact the Office of the Chief Coroner first, where appropriate.
You should consider these avenues, where appropriate, before contacting CPSO. If it isn’t possible, or you’ve tried without success to get your issue resolved, you can speak to us at 416-967-2603 or 1-800-268-7096 ext. 603 or send us an email at [email protected]. When emailing, please provide the name of the physician you have questions/concerns about and a phone number at which you can be reached so we can best assist you and address your concerns.
How do you make a complaint?
Filing a complaint? Please complete our new web form that you can submit online. Note: if you encounter any issues completing or submitting the new form, you may still file a complaint using the PDF Form.
If you’re filing a complaint on behalf of someone else, submit both the complaint form and an authorization for representation form.
We’ll do our best to follow up with you within two business days. Please note: the doctor will be notified in the event that a formal complaint is filed and will have a chance to respond.
By talking with you and your doctor, we are often able to resolve the complaint in a way that satisfies you both.
What if I've been sexually abused by my doctor?
Coming forward with a complaint about sexual abuse can be very difficult. We can help you with:
- Providing you with support through our Intake Coordinator, who has specialized training in sexual abuse and can answer questions you may have.
- Information to help you decide whether you wish to file a formal sexual abuse complaint against your doctor.
- A list of community resources in Ontario for victims of sexual abuse.
What happens with my complaint?
- We notify the doctor of the complaint.
- An investigator gathers information about the issues you raised. They may interview witnesses, including family members, pharmacists, nurses, other doctors involved in the care, and hospital administrators. Their goal is to try to answer questions, address concerns, and clear up any misunderstandings between you and the doctor.
- Your doctor has a chance to respond to the complaint.
- The investigator then submits a report to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee. They may ask for more information, including an expert opinion. You and the doctor will receive a copy of the Committee’s decision and its reasons.
- The College may:
- Advise the doctor on how to improve their practice or conduct, or require remedial self-study.
- Have the doctor agree through a document, called an “undertaking,” that they will improve or restrict their practice.
- Order the doctor to take specific courses to improve their skills or practice.
- Issue a formal caution.
- Refer the doctor for assessment if there are concerns the doctor’s health may be affecting their ability to practise.
- Refer the concerns about the doctor to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons Discipline Tribunal.
- Take no further action.
How long does the complaints process take?
Our goal is to conclude your complaint within three to 10 months. You will receive the Committee’s decision in the mail two to three months later.
Is there a time limit to filing a complaint?
No, there is no time limit. However, physicians are only required to keep adult patients’ files for 10 years. The more time that has passed since the incident(s) in question, the more difficult investigation and resolution become. We strongly recommend you contact us as soon as possible after the event. By doing so, it becomes more likely that:
- Relevant documents will still exist;
- We’ll have a better chance of locating witnesses;
- Memories have not faded; and
- Evidence is not missing.
Code of conduct
We are committed to communicating with you in a respectful, professional and civil manner. We expect the same courtesy from you.
We understand that your circumstances may be stressful and navigating our health system can be frustrating. However, we will not accept abusive behaviour towards our staff, including threats, vexatious or intimidating conduct, sexual harassment, yelling or screaming, or obscene, racist or discriminatory statements.
The law requires the CPSO to protect its staff from abusive behaviour. Repeated conduct of this kind may result in the CPSO communicating with you only in writing or otherwise restricting future communications with you.