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
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,
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
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
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
- sexual impropriety with a patient, consensual or not;
- failing to maintain a proper standard of medical care;
- improper prescribing of narcotic or mood-modifying drugs;
- improper billings for medical services; or,
- obstructing an investigation by the College
A report of the Committee's activities and a summary of its hearings is published each year.