When health professionals’ regulatory bodies receive complaints or initiate inquiries, the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (the “ICRC”) decide whether there are grounds to believe that the professional has engaged in an act of professional misconduct or may be incompetent, and whether to take any action against the professional. If the ICRC takes any action other than referral of allegations of professional misconduct to the Discipline Committee of the College, the ICRC’s decision can be reviewed, at the request of the professional or the complainant, to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (“HPARB”). Watch Lonny Rosen discuss HPARB reviews and the risks and benefits of reviewing an ICRC decision.
Toronto health lawyer, Lonny Rosen, has advice for health care professionals who are facing an appeal of a decision from the complaints committee. Well Lonny, isn’t a complaints decision final?
Well, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (“ICRC”) of any college can make a decision in respect of the complaint. Now they [ICRC] can do a number of things. They can take no further action, they can issue a caution or issue advice or the worst thing from a health professional’s perspective is to refer the matter to the discipline committee. Any decision other than a referral of allegations of misconduct to the discipline committee can be reviewed and that review is conducted by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.
What happens next?
Well, the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (“HPARB”) can hold a hearing, whether orally or in writing and will consider whether the decision of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee was reasonable and whether the investigation was adequate. It [HPARB] cannot interfere with the ICRC’s decision unless the investigation was inadequate or the decision itself was unreasonable.
Is that the end of the road then?
A decision by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board can be actually be judicially reviewed by with the complainant or the professional who was complained about.
Well, when would a professional ever want a review?
Well, normally a health professional would not consider reviewing a decision made by the ICRC because a decision that refers allegations of misconduct to the discipline committee, which is the worst thing the ICRC can do, cannot be appealed. If, however, the ICRC issues a caution or issues advice, the professional may want to review that decision by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. More likely, appeals or reviews to HPARB are initiated by the complainant.
Is it a good idea though?
The risk is that HBARB can refer the back to the ICRC. That means that if the ICRC previously made a decision that did not involve a referral of an allegation of misconduct to the discipline committee, if it re-evaluates that complaint, it can still do so. So there is our risk. There is also a risk that the ICRC can take other action that is worse for the professional than that was taken initially. However, if the complainant initiates the review then the professional has no choice but to respond [to HPARB].
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