Health Professionals Need to Be Aware of Reporting Obligations

Elyse Sunshine was interviewed about health professionals’ obligations to report certain misconduct.


Toronto health lawyer, Elyse Sunshine, says there are a number of circumstances where a health professional is required to report a colleague to their licensing body. Okay Elyse, I understand one is for sexual abuse

That’s correct. So if a health professional, in the course of practicing their profession, learns that a patient has been a victim of sexual abuse by another regulated health professional, then they have a mandatory obligation to report that information to that health professional’s licensing body.

So, for example, a physician [is a member of] the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the report [that must be made] has certain requirements.

You don’t have to make the report if you don’t know the name of the individual who is alleged to have committed the abuse. So, for example, sometimes patients will confide that “I was abused by an individual”, but they won’t disclose the name of the individual who committed the act of abuse. In that case, the reporting obligation is not triggered.

However, if they do disclose the name, then that information, of course, must go to the licensing body.

In addition, in the case of sexual abuse, in order to name the patient in the report, you must get the patient’s written consent. And the report must be made within thirty days, unless you feel that this individual is at the risk of re-offending, in which case the report must be made forthwith or as quickly as possible.

What is another circumstance?

So if a professional terminates a relationship, in the sense of an employment relationship or other type of professional association, for reasons of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence then that also triggers a mandatory reporting obligation to the health professional’s licensing body. Similar information must be provided to the licensing body such as: the name (of course) of the professional; the concerns; [and] the reasons for the termination or dissolution of the association.  Again, it must be done within thirty days or sooner if there are serious concerns.

Are there other reporting obligations?

There are.

There are some general reporting obligations that come from different pieces of legislation, such as the Child and Family Services Act. So [pursuant to that legislation], health professionals must make a report, not to the licensing body this time, but [to a children’s aid society] if there is a child who is suspected of being abused or neglected.

There are also reporting obligations under the Highway Traffic Act for health professionals [where] if you believe, in essence that someone is unfit to drive.

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