Unfortunately, starting a law suit may not be worthwhile to pursue unless the injury affects your ability to earn income or you or your loved ones need ongoing support and care. This is generally due to the caps on general damages for pain and suffering, and the approach taken by the defence in medical malpractice claims,
This can be disheartening to someone who was injured by a physician or nurse’s negligence, but was able to return to work and required no ongoing care.
But what about Justice?
All physicians and nurses are members of their respective colleges and must comply with the standards of the profession in order to maintain their registration.
A complaint about one of their members is taken very seriously by both sides and must be investigated.
If the care was bad, the investigation may result in a full blown disciplinary hearing. The investigation committees review deficiencies in care and take it as an opportunity to educate their members, improve their practice and protect the public.
Actions Of The Investigation Committee
Sometimes, physicians and nurses are asked to review certain areas of medicine or practice guidelines and write a report to be submitted to the investigations committee for further discussion and consideration.
Often, the investigation committee will issue a written decision with a written caution or caution in person for the doctor or nurse. Although the Colleges cannot award compensation, getting a written decision critical of the care you received can feel like a measure of justice.
And you’ve done the public a service by identifying and trying to prevent further bad care.
What do you need to start a complaint?
All regulated health professions, including physicians and nurses, have College websites which provide a number of policies and guidelines that their members have to follow.
The guidelines can help you frame the complaint and the exact breaches in the standard or care. Those websites also clearly describe the complaint process.
1. Your name and contact information.
2. A written complaint of the conduct.
3. The name of the physician or nurse about whom you are complaining.
Documentation Is Always A Good Idea
Getting your medical records before making the complaint is always a good idea - it can help you frame the exact timeline and issue, and can identify the people about whom you want to complain.
Try and write your complaint in simple language in a chronological fashion (NO ALL CAPS) and state clearly why you think the care was bad.
What Happens After I Submit My Complaint?
An investigator will reach out for clarification if needed and provide your written complaint to the doctor or nurse.
The physician or nurse will be given an opportunity to respond in writing. You will be given an opportunity to review the response and put in your own reply. Sometimes, the committee will ask for an outside expert to provide an opinion on the care.
Once the committee feels like it has enough information to make a decision, you will be informed of a date on which the committee will review the material and render a decision.
How Long Does the Complaint Process Take?
The whole process is supposed to be completed in about 6 months, but it can take longer if it’s a complicated issue or there are a lot of doctors or nurses involved.
After the committee deliberates, you will receive a written decision. If you don’t agree with the decision you can appeal to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.
Appealing the decision gives you access to the whole record of the investigation, including a history of previous complaints.
Further Legal Action
Remember, the material and decision of the College cannot be used in court if you ultimately decide to pursue a lawsuit. However, it can be very helpful to hear how the physician/nurse explained the conduct and what their respective colleges thought of the conduct.
Neinstein LLP has one of the largest plaintiff side medical malpractice groups in the Province, and speaking with one of our lawyers can help you decide whether you should start a lawsuit, a college complaint or both.
If you choose to only make a college complaint, our paralegals can assist, although because there is no compensation awarded, you must pay their hourly rate for the work completed.
Don’t hesitate to contact Neinstein LLP to discuss your options in pursuing a medical negligence case.