Complaints Process

Complaints are handled in accordance with sections 25 to 35 of the Health Professions Procedural Code, being Schedule 2 of the Regulated Health Professions Act,1991.

Complaints must be received in writing and include as much detail as possible. Complainants are engaged throughout the process and receive notification of the outcome of the investigation.

Step 1: Initiation

When the College receives a written complaint:

  • A file is opened and the complainant is sent an acknowledgement of receipt of their correspondence
  • The complainant may be asked for additional details or documentation, such as prescription receipts or vials of medication
  • The College will contact the pharmacy's Designated Manager (DM) to request records and identify the responsible practitioner(s)
  • The complainant may also be asked to sign and return to the College an Information Release Form allowing the College to speak with other healthcare professionals involved in the complaint
  • If you are filing a complaint on behalf of another person, that person will be required to sign the Information Release Form

Some complaints can be resolved using a process called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is a voluntary, confidential process that focuses on quality improvement and education. You and the practitioner named in the complaint work to achieve a mutually agreed-upon resolution with the assistance of an independent mediator retained by the College. This resolution must be approved by the College’s Inquiries,Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). If ADR is discontinued or is not successful, the complaint is investigated through the College’s formal complaints process.

ADR gives both you and the practitioner an opportunity to discuss concerns openly. It’s more flexible than the College’s formal complaints process and offers an opportunity for greater participation and influence on the final outcome.

If your case is suitable for ADR, a complaints officer will reach out to discuss whether or not you’d like to try and resolve your complaint through the ADR process.

Learn more about the College’s ADR program

Step 2: Notice of Complaint

  • The practitioner in question will be issued a Notice of Complaint with a copy of the complaint
  • The practitioner has thirty days to provide the College with his or her written response and any additional pharmacy records that have been requested by the College
  • The complainant will be given the practitioner’s response for review and can send the College any comments regarding the response

Step 3: The Investigation

  • Each complaint is fully and impartially investigated by College staff
  • In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, the College asks the complainant and the practitioner to refrain from any communication with each other about the matter
  • The College expects that the complainant and the practitioner will fully cooperate with the investigation

Step 4: Results of the Investigation

  • After the investigation is complete and all of the supporting documentation is received, a report of the investigation is reviewed by a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)
    • A panel of the ICRC is composed of professional and publicly appointed members of College Council and non-council committee members. College staff are not members of the ICRC and therefore they are not involved in ICRC’s decision-making process
  • The ICRC deliberates over the information it has reviewed and makes a decision about how to dispose of the complaint

Step 5: Decision Making

The ICRC has a number of options available to it. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the panel can:

  • Refer the member and specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
    • A small fraction of complaints that are reviewed by the ICRC are referred to the Discipline Committee. These complaints usually involve serious matters where the panel is of the view that the member may have been dishonest, in breach of trust, appears to show a wilful disregard of professional values, and/or appears to be unable to practise professionally or competently. Learn more about the College’s discipline process
    • Refer the member to another panel of the ICRC for health inquiries
      • Where the investigation reveals that the conduct may be caused by an illness, disorder or substance abuse, the panel may refer to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries
    • Require the member to complete a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP)
      • The ICRC has the ability to require a member to take specified remedial courses. The courses would be tailored to address concerns about a member’s practice formulated by the panel after it reviewed the investigation report
    • Issue a caution to the member
      • Cautions require the member to attend in person before a panel of the ICRC providing the panel with an opportunity to have a “face to face” discussion with the member about its concerns about the member’s practice and to hear from the member about the changes he or she will make to avoid a similar incident from occurring in the future
    • Take no action against the member
      • This often occurs when the panel is of the view that the member’s conduct and/or actions appear to be in compliance with the standards of practice of the profession, the generally accepted standard adopted by members of the profession, and all other relevant laws and regulations that apply
    • Take other action not inconsistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991
      • ICRC has the ability to take other action it considers appropriate as long as it is not inconsistent with the RHPA

    Step 6: ICRC Complaints Decisions and Review Process

    • Once the ICRC disposes of a complaint both parties will receive a copy of the panel's decision.
    • Either party may request a review of the decision and reasons by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) unless the decision is to refer specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee or to refer to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries.

    Confidentiality Complaints are a confidential process. The results of an investigation remain on the member’s file but are not available to the public. The exceptions to this rule are when a member is ordered to complete a SCERP, receives an oral caution from the ICRC, or when specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence against the member are referred to the Discipline Committee. Information about the SCERP, oral caution or referral to the Discipline Committee is public information and available on the Public Register.
    Discipline hearings are public proceedings.
    If you are the Subject of a Complaint The complaints process is principled and balanced to ensure fairness to all parties, while at all times protecting the public. Read more about what to do if you are the subject of a complaint.