Complaints & Investigations
One of our most important responsibilities is to respond to concerns and investigate complaints about physicians practising medicine in Nova Scotia. Concerns about a physician can be raised by filing a complaint. The College’s complaint process is legislated by the Medical Act.
There is no cost to file a complaint. There is also no time limit to file a complaint, however, we recommend that you tell us what happened as soon as possible.
You can file a complaint against more than one physician. Please use a separate complaint form for each physician.
You can file a complaint against a physician who has retired or is no longer licensed in Nova Scotia.
Complaints about physicians can come from anyone, including:
- patients’ families;
- other physicians;
- a representative for the patient; or
- a third person.
You can file a complaint about the care received by someone else. If you do not have the patient’s consent, you may file the complaint as a third person.
What Information is Confidential
The College has a statutory obligation to maintain the confidentiality of all information gathered during the investigation and resolution of complaints.
You are required to keep information provided to you by the College confidential. This includes the physician’s response to your complaint. Confidentiality is expected to be maintained when discussing the complaint with others such as friends and family. If at anytime you have questions about confidentiality please contact the College at 902-421-2201.
The Medical Act directs the College to publish all Hearing Committee decisions unless a publication ban is in place. Decisions do not disclose the identity of the person who filed the complaint or the names of patients involved in the complaint.
We recognize that coming forward with a complaint about sexual misconduct can be very difficult. You may not be ready to disclose your identity or make a decision about whether to file a complaint. If you have concerns about a sexually inappropriate encounter with a physician, we encourage you to call to speak to our Public Support Advisor.
If you have a concern about the care or treatment you received from your physician, please contact us.
Questions About Filing Complaints
If you have questions about filing a complaint, please call: 902-421-2201. You will be asked to leave a message and will receive a call back in 24-48 hours.
Questions About Sexual Misconduct Complaints
To report a complaint regarding sexual misconduct call: 902-406-8401. Leave a message on this confidential line to discuss concerns regarding sexual misconduct by physicians.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my concerns about my physician justify a complaint?
If you feel you cannot talk to your physician or the issue is not resolved, you can call our public support advisor at 902-421-2201. The public support advisor will explain the complaints process as it applies to your situation. By contacting the College, you are not automatically filing a complaint against your physician. The public support advisor may be able to help you resolve your concern without filing a complaint.
Is there a time limit to file a complaint?
There is no time limit to file a complaint. But we do recommend that you tell us what happened as soon as possible after the event. By doing so, it becomes more likely that:
- relevant documents can be found;
- potential witnesses can be located;
- memories have not faded; and
- evidence is not missing.
To comply with the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA), many physicians do not retain medical records indefinitely. This may impact our ability to investigate your complaint.
Who will know I have filed a complaint?
While complaints are confidential, they are not anonymous, and as such the following people will be made aware of your complaint:
- the physician about whom you have complained – a copy of your complaint is sent to the physician who has 30 days to respond in most cases;
- the physician’s lawyer, should the physician seek advice and assistance from a lawyer;
- the registrar of the College;
- College professional conduct staff, including the public support advisor; and
- investigations and/or hearing committee members.
Will I need to find another physician?
Yes. While your complaint is being investigated, we advise you to avoid contact with the physician named in the complaint.
Plan to see another physician while we investigate your complaint. If you need to see the physician named in your complaint, please contact us before doing so.
Because the physician-patient relationship requires trust and confidence, filing a complaint may result in one or both parties feeling this relationship has broken down. Your physician can dismiss you as a patient following the resolution of your complaint, but must:
- notify you in writing, to allow you enough time to arrange for your continuing care; and
- ensure any outstanding medical investigations or serious medical conditions are followed up.
Will I get compensation?
The College cannot order a physician to compensate a patient. If you are seeking financial compensation you may want to seek legal advice.