College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario – CTCMPAO Defence Lawyers

Acupuncturists, like many professionals in Canada, must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated in the province in which they practice. Each province regulates their professionals in their own way.

Each province in Canada is responsible for regulating the professionals working within that province. In Ontario, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO) is responsible for regulating acupuncturists. The goal of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario is to ensure all Members practicing acupuncture are held to the highest professional standards of knowledge and integrity to ensure the highest quality of care to all patients.

The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario is responsible for enforcing the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006, which is discussed in more detail below. They ensure that acupuncturists have received the proper education from an accredited institution prior to beginning practice, that practicing Members keep up to date with any necessary on-going education and that all Members abide by all the regulations laid out in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006. The main goal is to protect the public from professional misconduct. As such, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario also accepts formal complaints regarding licensed Members and investigates as necessary. If professional misconduct or unethical behaviour is discovered, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario will also be the regulating body responsible for punishing the offending acupuncturist.

Acupuncturists in Ontario are regulated by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006, which is enforced by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario. This statute outlines various regulations that apply to the practice of acupuncture including various registration requirements and regulations, quality assurance regulations and professional misconduct regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Acupuncturists Regulated?
What Types of Acts or Omissions may Lead to a Finding of Professional Misconduct?
The Complaint Process
What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?
What Penalties ca Acupuncturists Face as a Result of a Complaint?
How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the CTCMPAO?

How are Acupuncturists Regulated?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006, outlines various regulations pertaining to the quality assurance of the practice of acupuncture. To maintain the highest quality standards, the Act stipulates that acupuncturists must participate in the Quality Assurance Program. The program requires acupuncturists to participate in continuing education and professional development programs to ensure their skills are always up to date. The program is designed to incorporate practice standards, changes made to entry to practice competencies and other relevant issues and advances in technology. It promotes continuing quality improvement among Members, encourages and promotes interprofessional collaboration and strives to address changes in practice environments. The goal is to ensure all acupuncturists regulated in the province on Ontario provide their patients with only the highest quality of care.

The Act also outlines the various practices and procedures for becoming a registered acupuncturist in Ontario. It includes the requirements for the application of and issuance of a certificate of registration and the terms and conditions that are attached to the various levels of registration. Finally, the Act outlines various acts and omissions that constitute professional misconduct in the practice of acupuncture. Professional misconduct is discussed more in detail below.

What Types of Acts or Omissions may Lead to a Finding of Professional Misconduct?

As with all professionals in Ontario, acupuncturists must abide by certain rules and regulations as outlined by the College. Failure to do so may result in a Member being accused of professional misconduct. A Member who is found to have committed professional misconduct will face serious consequences from the College and may jeopardize their ability to practice acupuncture.

The Act lists 49 acts or omissions that are considered professional misconduct. Some examples of professional misconduct include;

  • Failing to comply with an order of a panel of a Committee of the College,
  • Failing to appear before the panel of in the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee to be cautioned,
  • Engaging in conduct that would reasonably be regarded by the profession as conduct unbecoming a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture,
  • Failing to report to the College an incident of unsafe practice by another Member,
  • Using a title, term or designation in respect of the Member’s practice that is not authorized by the College,
  • Treating or attempting to treat a condition that the Member knows or ought to know he or she does not have the skill, knowledge or judgment to deal with,
  • Failing to keep records in accordance with the standards of the profession,
  • Falsifying a record relating to the Member’s practice and
  • Abusing a patient or a patient’s representative verbally, physically, psychologically or emotionally.

The Complaint Process

Acupuncturists, like any professional, owe a duty of care to their patients. Failure to discharge this duty of care may result in a formal complaint being filed with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario against the practicing acupuncturist. Such a complaint will be handled in accordance with the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006. Almost any Member of the public can file a formal complaint against an acupuncturist.

All complaints must be submitted in writing or using audio or visual recording and submitted to the College. The complaint must contain the following information; a concise statement outlining the complaint including as much detail as possible and the name of the acupuncturist as well as any other acupuncturists, health care professionals or other persons who may have relevant information regarding the complaint. The contact information of the complainant should also be included. There is no time limit on when a complaint can be filed, however complaints must be filed within a reasonable time. The College will determine what is reasonable.

What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?

Once a complaint has been received by College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario, the College will open a file related to the complaint. The College will appoint an independent investigator to look into the matter and collect evidence. A copy of the complaint, including the name of the complainant, will then be sent to the impugned acupuncturist who will then have 30 days to submit a written reply to the College. Please note that if the safety of the complainant is at risk in any way, their name will not be shared with the acupuncturist. Generally, the acupuncturist’s response will then be forwarded to the complainant for review. In addition to the complainant and acupuncturist’s statements, the College investigator will also collect other relevant information including patient records and statements from any other individual with knowledge of the matter. The College will generally complete such an investigation within 150 days. Once the investigation is complete, the information gathered will be forwarded to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee for review.

It is important to note that a finding of professional misconduct can have very serious implications on an acupuncturist’s ability to practice. Once an acupuncturist becomes aware that a complaint has been filed against them, it is prudent to contact qualified legal counsel as soon as possible.

What Penalties can Acupuncturists Face as a Result of a Complaint? 

Once the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee has completed their review of the complaint and all of the evidence gathered, they will make a determination on how to resolve the issue. The Committee has several options at their disposal;

  • Closing the file and taking no further action,
  • Requiring the acupuncturist appear before a College panel to be cautioned for their behaviour,
  • Referring the matter to the Professional Misconduct Committee or Discipline Committee,
  • Referring the matter to the Fitness to Practice Committee, or
  • Taking any other actions that the Committee deems appropriate.

If there is concern that professional misconduct has occurred, the file will be forwarded to the Discipline Committee. If the Discipline Committee determines that professional misconduct has occurred, the Committee will determine the best course of action to remedy the issue. There are several options available to the Committee when determining an appropriate punishment.

The Committee may choose to; suspend the Member’s license, revoke the Member’s license, impose limitations on the Member’s ability to practice, impose a fine on the Member which will be payable to the College or formally reprimand the Member. Additionally, the finding that the Member committed professional misconduct as well as the punishment associated with that finding will be published on the College’s website and open to the public.

How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario?

The best defence to any complaint will depend largely on the facts of the case and the allegations being made. Due to the serious consequences that may result from a finding of professional misconduct, it is important for those accused of professional misconduct to contact and consult with experienced legal counsel. Legal counsel can help protect your rights throughout the process and ensure you provide a complete and well-rounded response to the allegations against you. This is imperative in ensuring one’s license to practice acupuncture remains protected.

Generally, the best way to defend a professional misconduct complaint is to argue that the acupuncturist did not deviate from the applicable standard of care when treating the patient. If the acupuncturist can prove this, they cannot be found guilty of professional misconduct. Experienced legal counsel can assist you in formulating the best defence to the allegations against you to ensure your ability to practice acupuncture is protected.

Quick Facts

Is Acupuncture Regulated in Ontario?

Yes. Acupuncturists in Ontario are regulated by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists Ontario (CTCMPAO). In 2006, the Ontario government enacted the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006, which regulates the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in Ontario.

What Happens if a Complaint is Filed Against an Acupuncturist?

When a complaint is filed with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists Ontario (CTCMPAO) the College will review the complaint and investigate further where necessary. An independent investigator will be appointed to gathering evidence from all relevant parties. Once the investigation is complete, the College will determine whether to act against the impugned acupuncturist.

What are Common Complaints Against Acupuncturists?

Members of the public may file a complaint against an acupuncturist for virtually anything. When a complaint is filed the College will thoroughly review it to determine whether the complaint is valid. Common complaints against acupuncturists include issues involving confidentiality, record keeping and the crossing of professional boundaries.

Who Can File a Complaint Against an Acupuncturist?

Virtually anyone can file a formal complaint against an acupuncturist. The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturists of Ontario accepts complaints online from any member of the public and will investigate all complaints to determine whether they have veracity and whether the acupuncturist has committed professional misconduct.

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