Ignore complaints to college at your own peril

Health professionals need to pay close attention to complaints lodged against them with their college because the consequences can be dire, says Elyse.

“Because the ramifications can be so significant, it’s never something you can take lightly,” says Sunshine. “We’ve seen health professionals get themselves in hot water because they don’t take complaints as seriously as they should.”

Physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other self-regulated health professionals typically receive notice of a complaint via a phone call or a registered letter from their college.

The letter will include a copy of the complaint, extracts of the relevant legislation, and sometimes, a request for a copy of the patient’s chart, Sunshine says. The letter will demand the professional’s response, and occasionally include a summary of the issues that need addressing.

“The first thing to do is take time to reflect, and not react right away,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com. “It’s very upsetting and concerning to get a complaint letter, but you don’t get a prize for getting your response in early.”

It takes time to compose a thoughtful reply that speaks to all the issues, Sunshine says. “And you want to make sure you’re not reacting from emotion.”

Consider notifying your insurer of the complaint to see what legal coverage it offers, she says.

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