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COLLEGE OF CHIROPRACTORS OF ONTARIO DEFENCE AND DISCIPLINE LAWYER

Chiropractors, like many professionals in Canada, must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated by the province in which they practice. Each province in Canada is responsible for regulating the professionals working within that province. In Ontario, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario is responsible for regulating the practice of chiropracty. The goal of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario is to ensure all chiropractors practicing in Ontario are held to the highest professional standards of knowledge and integrity to ensure the highest quality of care to all patients.

The College of Chiropractors of Ontario is responsible for enforcing the Chiropractic Act 1991, which is discussed in more detail below. They ensure that chiropractors 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 Chiropractic Act 1991. The main goal is to protect the public from professional misconduct. As such, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario also accepts formal complaints regarding licensed members and investigates as necessary. If professional misconduct or unethical behaviour is discovered, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario will also be the regulating body responsible for punishing the offending chiropractor.

Chiropractors in Ontario are regulated by the Chiropractic Act 1991 which is enforced by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario. This statute outlines various regulations that apply to the practice of chiropracty including various quality assurance regulations and regulations surrounding the College’s peer review program. The statute also contains a number of general regulations pertaining to becoming a registered chiropractor in Ontario. These provisions include regulations outlining the various classes of certification including general certificates, temporary certificates, inactive certificates and retired certificates, the processes for applying for certification, and regulations surrounding registration fees and practice insurance.

The Chiropractor Act 1991 also contains a detailed section relating to professional misconduct within the practice of chiropracty. This section outlines 33 enumerated acts that have been deemed professional misconduct by the College of Chiropractors of Ontario. If a chiropractor has committed any of the acts outlined in this section, they will be found guilty of committing professional misconduct and will likely face serious consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 can a Chiropractor Face as a Result of a Complaint?
How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Chiropractors of Ontario

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

There are many different reasons a chiropractic patient may wish to file a formal complaint against their chiropractor. Generally, the patient will have had a bad experience with their chiropractor which likely resulted in some sort of injury to the patient. Some actions or behaviours that commonly lead to chiropractic professional misconduct complaints include; failing to maintain a standard of practice of the profession, abusing a patient emotionally, verbally, physically or sexually, practicing while the members ability to do so is impaired by any substance, discontinuing professional services that are needed unless the patient wishes to discontinue service, alternative services are offered or the patient has been given a reasonable opportunity to arrange alternative service, practicing while the member is in a conflict of interest and providing a diagnostic or therapeutic service that is not necessary. Committing any of these acts, or any of the other acts listed in this section will likely lead to serious consequences for the offending chiropractor. If you have had a formal complaint filed against you it is important to contact qualified legal counsel immediately.

The Complaint Process

Chiropractors, 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 Chiropractors of Ontario and will be handled in accordance with the Regulated Health Professionals Act 1991. Virtually any member of the public can file a formal complaint against a chiropractor. Formal complaints can be filled out online on College of Chiropractors of Ontario website. The complaint must be filled out in writing or using audio or visual recording and must include the following information; a concise statement outlining the complaint with as much detail as possible, the full legal name of the chiropractor as well as any other chiropractor, health care professionals or other person who may have relevant information, and the name and contact information of the complainant. There is no time limit on when a complaint can be filed.

What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?

Once a complaint has been received by College of Chiropractors of Ontario, the College will open a file regarding the matter and will request any additional information required to begin the investigation process. The College will also contact the impugned chiropractor to notify them that a complaint has been filed against them. At this point in the process the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) will conduct a full and impartial investigation into the allegations. The ICRC is a board consisting of members of the public as well as certified chiropractors. It is expected that both the complainant and member will cooperate fully during all stages of the investigation. The Committee may appoint an investigator to investigate the complaint on their behalf. The investigator will have the authority to enter the business premises of the chiropractor, for a reasonable amount of time, to carry out their investigation.

After reviewing the results of the investigation, the Committee will make a decision as to the appropriate next steps to take. In making this decision, the Committee must consider all relevant information. Once the Committee has come to a decision, it will put the decision in writing and send a copy to both the complainant and the impugned chiropractor.

It is important to note that a finding of professional misconduct can have very serious implications on a chiropractor’s ability to practice. As soon as a member becomes aware that a complaint has been filed, they are advised to contact qualified legal counsel. Our Firm can help guide you through this process to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

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

The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee has various options regarding how it can dispose of a matter. If the Committee feels that no misconduct has occurred, they can choose to take no further action and close the file. If they do find that misconduct has occurred the Committee may require the member to appear before the Committee to be cautioned regarding their behaviour, refer the matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing, initiate an inquiry into the capacity of the member ability to continue to practice, require the member to undergo specified remedial or continuing education and/or require the member to sign an undertaking. In cases where the member is required to appear before the Committee to be cautioned, required to complete specified remedial or continuing education and/or sign an undertaking, that information will be made available to the public. The Committee may also take any other action they deem appropriate in the circumstances, barring the actions being in contravention of the Regulated Health Professions Act 1991.

Upon review, 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 members certification, revoke the members certification, impose limitations on the members ability to practice, impose a fine 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. The College cannot require the member to refund fees paid by a patient, or require the member to apologise to a patient.

It should be noted that both the chiropractor and the complainant may appeal the decision where the file has not been referred to the Discipline Committee or Fitness to Practice Committee. The decision will then be reviewed by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB). Such an appeal must be filed within thirty days of the decision being rendered.

How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Chiropractors of Ontario

As with any legal matter, the best defence will depend largely on the allegations being made and the facts surrounding the case. It is important to contact qualified legal counsel immediately upon receiving notice that a formal complaint has been filed. In some cases, the allegations against the chiropractor will be unfounded, or will not amount to professional misconduct. In these situations, the chiropractor may simply state that they have not violated any of the rules or regulations surrounding the proper practice of chiropracty in Ontario in their formal reply to the complaint. In situations where a more substantive response is required, a common way to defend a professional misconduct allegation is to argue that the chiropractor did not deviate from the applicable standard of care, and that by doing so they sufficiently discharged their duty of care to their patient. This essentially means that the chiropractor did everything that was necessary and appropriate in the circumstances and as a result are not responsible for any negative outcome. In any case, the best plan of defence is to contact qualified legal counsel as soon as possible and allow them to assist in drafting a response to the complaint. Our Firm can help guide you through the process to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

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