Complaints About Care

Regulatory colleges are responsible for ensuring that BC’s regulated health professionals serve the public by providing qualified, safe, and ethical care.

As part of this role, colleges respond to complaints from the public and other health care providers. If a health professional’s practice is determined to be unsafe or unethical, colleges have the power to take disciplinary action.

Watch the BCHR video on the complaints process:

Do you have a complaint or problem with a regulated health care professional?

If you are concerned about the conduct of a health care professional, the first thing you should consider doing is talking the problem over with him or her; difficulties often result from misunderstanding or poor communications. If you are still not satisfied, and the professional works for an agency such as a hospital, you may wish to speak to the person in charge at the agency. If there is no agency involved or if it cannot help with your problem, after confirming that the professional is registered with a regulatory college and listed on that college’s public register, find out further information from the college. By reading the college’s website or contacting the college, learn about the standards you can expect in the delivery of care and what can be done if they are not met.

What the regulatory college can do if you submit a complaint

After a regulatory college receives a complaint about one of its registrants, a complaint process is launched. Colleges will only investigate complaints that fall within their statutory mandate. The process will involve a thorough investigation and, if warranted, a discipline hearing. If the registrant’s actions are found to constitute unprofessional conduct or incompetent practice, the organization may issue a reprimand, require a supervised program of help, impose practice limits, suspend the registrant, or terminate his or her authority to practise. Some organizations also levy a fine.

What the regulatory college cannot do

A college does not have the authority to:

  • Order compensation for any harm that may have been done;
  • Address business disputes between registrants; and
  • Direct how an agency supervises or disciplines a professional employed by it.

Making a complaint

If you want to make a formal complaint, contact the appropriate regulatory college. You may be able to submit a complaint on the college’s website. You may be asked to put your complaint in writing and give the name of the professional, where he or she works, details of the specific actions being complained about, and provide any available support documents. You should also identify yourself so that the matter can be thoroughly investigated. If you are not satisfied with the actions taken by the regulatory college, you may apply to the Health Professions Review Board for a review of a complaint outcome, submit a complaint to the BC Ombudsperson, or pursue legal action.

Health Professions Review Board

The Health Professions Review Board (HPRB) is an administrative tribunal created under the Health Professions Act. A complainant who is not satisfied with a complaint outcome can ask the HPRB to review the outcome.

The HPRB independently reviews certain decisions made by regulatory colleges. The HPRB also monitors the activities of colleges’ inquiry committees and registration committees. This is done to ensure the committees fulfill their duties in the public interest and as mandated by legislation. The HPRB provides a neutral forum for members of the public as well as for health professionals to resolve issues or seek review of colleges’ decisions.

The HPRB also helps to improve the health care system and serve the public interest in British Columbia by developing and publishing guidelines and recommendations to assist colleges for registration, inquiry, and discipline procedures that are transparent, objective, impartial, and fair.

For more information, visit the Health Professions Review Board website.