ROYAL COLLEGE OF DENTAL SURGEONS OF ONTARIO RCDSO DEFENCE AND DISCIPLINE LAWYER
The Firm defends dentists facing allegations of professional misconduct throughout Ontario. Some of the regulatory allegations may include failing to keep adequate records, false or misleading advertising, allegations of excessive or unreasonable fees, failing to cooperate with the College, submitting false or misleading accounts, dishonorable behavior or allegations of unethical conduct. All hearings are held at the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) in Toronto. The College also promotes the publication of decisions to assist other members in determining professional misconduct, incompetence and the consequences associated with a finding of guilt. Like many professionals in Canada, dentists must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated by the province in which they practice. Each province regulates their professionals in their own way.
The Firm’s exceptional background in criminal defence pretrial resolution and litigation often resolves proceedings without any formal disciplinary action or sanctions by the regulatory body. The Firm has successfully defended Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Paralegals, Law Society Discipline Investigators, Nurses, Accountants, Real Estate Agents, Health Care Professionals, Teachers, Financial Service Sector Employees, City of Toronto and Provincial Government Employees, Police Officers and Canada Boarder Service Officers, Canada Revenue Agency Auditors and many other professionals belonging to regulatory bodies and facing prosecution or criminal charges.
Each province in Canada is responsible for regulating the professionals working within that province. In Ontario, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario is responsible for regulating the practice of dentistry. The goal of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario is to ensure all members practicing dentistry are held to the highest professional standards of knowledge and integrity to ensure the highest quality of care. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario is responsible for enforcing the Dentistry Act 1991, which is discussed in more detail below.
They ensure that dentists 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 of the regulations laid out in the Dentistry Act 1991. The main goal is to protect the public from professional misconduct. As such, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario also accepts formal complaints regarding licensed members and investigates as necessary. If professional misconduct or unethical behaviour is discovered, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario will also be the regulating body responsible for punishing the offending dentist.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are Dentists Regulated?
Dentists in Ontario are regulated by the Dentistry Act 1991 which is enforced by The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. This statute outlines various regulations that apply to the practice of dentistry including quality assurance regulations, general regulations and regulations pertaining to professional misconduct. The quality assurance regulations are aimed at insuring the highest level of professionalism is maintained throughout the practice of dentistry. This section of the statute stipulates that all members must keep up to date with continuing education to ensure they are competent at all times. The statute also focuses on improvement, listing several methods for members to gather feedback about their dentistry practice in order to improve. For example, continuing education, peer feedback and practice enhancement tools are all methods which dentists can employ to evaluate and progress their dental practice. This section also specifies that all members must report their compliance with quality assurance measures to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario annually and lays out additional miscellaneous duties associated with maintaining the highest level of care.
The second section of the Dentistry Act 1991 outlines the general regulations associated with the practice of dentistry. This section mainly focuses on the licensing, registration and academic aspects of the dental profession. It begins by outlining the general conditions and requirements that must be met prior to an individual applying for their dentistry license, then goes on to outline the requirements for general, specialty, academic, education, post-specialty training, graduate student, academic visitor and instructional certificates of registration. This area of the statute also outlines the applicable rules for resignation, suspension from the dental profession and subsequent reinstatements.
The final section of The Dentistry Act 1991 deals with professional misconduct. This section outlines 61 enumerated acts or omissions that have been deemed professional misconduct by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. The section also specifies the manner in which agreement with clients are to be made and guidelines regarding payment for services. Additionally, the statute stipulates that members of the dental profession are not to render dental services where there is a conflict of interest and goes on to list various situations from which a conflict of interest would arise. For example, a conflict of interest between a dentist and his patient would arise where the parties have previously entered into a lease agreement with one another. In this situation due to the prior relationship that exists between the two parties it would be unethical for the dentist to provide dental services to that individual.
Dentists must also abide by the rules and regulations set out in the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario Code of Ethics which governs the ethics of those practicing dentistry.
The Complaint Process
Dentists, like any professional, owe a duty of care to their patients. Failure to discharge this duty may result in a formal complaint being filed with the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario against the practicing dentist. Virtually any member of the public can file a formal complaint against a dentists. Formal complaints can be filed out online on the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario’s website. The complaint must be filed 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 dentist as well as any other dentists, health care professionals or other persons who may have relevant information and the contact information of the complainant. There is no time limit on when a complaint can be filed.
What Types of Injuries Give Rise to Dental Malpractice Claims?
There are many different reasons a dental patient may wish to file a formal complaint against their dentist. Generally, the patient will have had a bad experience with their dental professional which likely resulted in some sort of injury to the patient. Some actions or behaviours that commonly lead to dental malpractice lawsuits include; carrying out unnecessary or inappropriate treatment on a patient, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, infection from improper sterilization, damage or injuries to the mouth and/or teeth, complications from root canals, tooth extractions, anaesthesia, topical anaesthetics or sedation. It is important to note that not all negative outcomes in dentistry can be attributed to negligence on the part of the dentist.
What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?
Once a complaint has been received by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (made up of dentists and other members of the pubic appointed by the provincial government to represent consumers) will review the allegations as is their legal obligation. A copy of the complaint will also be forwarded directly to the dentist in question. The dentist will have thirty days to reply to the complaint in writing. Once a reply has been received by the College, investigators will accept written submissions and other evidence that may be pertinent to the complaint from the dentist, the complainant and any other relevant parties. Dental professionals have a legal obligation to co-operate during every stage of the investigation and are entitled to retain and consult qualified legal counsel. Once the College has completed its investigation, the complete file will be forwarded to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee for review. The Committee will then make a determination, based on the file, as to whether or not professional misconduct has occurred.
There are several different options available to the Committee when making its determination on whether or not professional misconduct has occurred. The Committee may; determine no misconduct has occurred and take no further action, provide the dentist with advice on how to improve their practice to meet applicable standards, request that the dentist sign an agreement with the College to upgrade their skills, order the dentist to complete a continuing education course or remediation program, require the dentist to appear before the Committee to be cautioned about his/her behaviour and discuss suggestions on how to improve to avoid future issues, refer the matter to the Discipline Committee to hear specific allegations of professional misconduct and for further review or refer the dentist to another panel within the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee for evaluation for possible mental of physical health issues that may be interfering with the dentists ability to adequately practice dentistry.
It is important to note that a finding of professional misconduct can have very serious implications on a dentists ability to practice. Once a member becomes aware that a complaint has been filed, they are advised to contact qualified legal counsel as soon as possible. Our Firm can help guide you through this process to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.
What Penalties can Dentists Face as a Result of a Complaint?
Once the Discipline Committee has ruled that professional misconduct has occurred, the Committee will determine the best course of action to remedy the misconduct. A copy of the complete decision will be sent to both the offending dentist and the complainant. There are several options available to the Committee when determining an appropriate punishment. The Committee may choose to; suspend the dentists license, revoke the dentists license, impose limitations, conditions or terms on the dentists license, formally reprimand the dentist and/or require the dentist to pay a fine. Additionally, the finding that the dentist 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. It should be noted that both the dentist and the complainant may appeal the decision if they are not happy with the outcome.
Though the Committee may order the dentist to pay a fine, it should be noted that the Committee cannot legally order a dentist to pay monetary damages to a patient. To receive monetary compensation stemming from an allegation of professional misconduct causing injury, the affected party would have to file a lawsuit against the dentist in civil court. Such a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the occurrence of the injury, as per the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Ontario.
How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to The Royal College of Dental Surgeons 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 dentist will be unfounded, or simply will not amount to professional misconduct. In these situations the dentist may simply state that they have not violated any of the rules or regulations surrounding the proper practice of dentistry in Ontario. In situations where a more substantive response is required, a common way to defend a professional misconduct allegation is to argue that the dentist did not deviate from the applicable standard of care and that by doing so they sufficiently discharged their duty of care to the patient. This essentially means that the dentist did everything that was necessary and appropriate in the circumstances and as a result are not responsible for any negative outcomes. 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 the response to the complaint.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
In addition to the formal complaint process utilized by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, the College also employs a more informal alternative dispute resolution process. The alternative dispute resolution process is a totally voluntary program implemented to negotiate and facilitate settlements in certain cases. The process allows the dentist in question to negotiate, with the help of the College, with the complainant in order to come to a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. This process is generally more simple and less costly than the formal complaint process. It should be noted that alternative dispute resolution is not appropriate in all cases. The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario will determine whether or not a particular case can be resolved through the alternative dispute resolution process. Generally, only less serious cases will be dealt with using this method. Additionally, both the complainant and dentist must agree to participate in the dispute resolution process for the College to approve it.
How does Alternative Dispute Resolution Work?
The alternative dispute resolution process is handled quite differently from a formal complaint. Once the College has agreed to handle the matter through the ADR process, a neutral facilitator will be hired. The College will cover reasonable costs associated with hiring a facilitator to resolve the issue. The facilitator will assist the dentist and the complainant to organize and simplify the issues in the case in order to negotiate an agreeable settlement. It is important to note that participating in the alternative dispute resolution process does not guarantee a settlement will be reached. Should the parties fail to agree on a settlement, the process will be referred back to the formal complaint process for further review by the College.