Discipline Committee

Generally, the discipline process begins with a concern expressed by a patient or some other individual on the conduct of a physician. If the concern is sufficiently serious that it may result in discipline, it is referred to the Council of the College or the Executive Committee. They will either:

  1. proceed directly to discipline by laying a charge against the physician. There would be an investigation by the Registrar's staff or Legal Counsel in interviewing
        potential witnesses; or,

  2. appoint a Preliminary Inquiry Committee to investigate and report. The Preliminary Inquiry Committee has the authority to:

    a. compel production of medical records;
    b. apply to the Provincial Court for an order authorizing a search for records;
    c. compel the physician to appear before the Committee;
    d. subpoena witnesses to appear before the Committee.

Nothing said by the physician to a Preliminary Inquiry Committee can be used in a Discipline Hearing, unless the physician is charged with misleading the Committee. After the Committee completes its investigation, it submits a report to the Council of the College. The Council then determines whether a charge should be laid against the physician.

If a charge is laid, it is heard by a Discipline Hearing Committee. This Committee consists of individuals appointed by Council. No member of the Discipline Committee is a member of Council. A Discipline Hearing Committee is selected from the members of the Discipline Committee to sit on each individual hearing. Each hearing is chaired by the Committee Chairperson or Acting Chairperson.

The Discipline Hearing essentially follows the same format as a civil trial. The rules of evidence are applicable and the physician has the right to be represented by Counsel. Counsel for the College represents the public interest. An assessor is appointed to ensure proper legal procedure is followed and all witnesses are subject to examination and cross-examination.

Following the Hearing, the Chairperson submits a report to Council. If found guilty, the physician appears before Council for the imposition of penalty. The range of penalties includes a reprimand, a fine, a suspension and/or revocation of licence.

Section 46 of The Medical Profession Act, 1981, defines a broad range of activities as unbecoming, improper, unprofessional or discreditable. Section 46(o) states that conduct is unbecoming, improper, unprofessional or discreditable if the Discipline Committee concludes it is so. Section 46(p) permits the Council to define by Bylaw, specific conduct to be unbecoming, improper, unprofessional or discreditable.

Conduct which has been subject to charges has covered a wide range of activities. The more common basis for allegations against a physician are:

  1. sexual impropriety with a patient, consensual or not;
  2. failing to maintain a proper standard of medical care;
  3. improper prescribing of narcotic or mood-modifying drugs;
  4. improper billings for medical services; or,
  5. obstructing an investigation by the College

A report of the Committee's activities and a summary of its hearings is published each year.