Step 1: Initiation
When the College receives a written complaint:
- A file is opened and the complainant may be asked for additional details or documentation, such as prescription receipts or vials of medication
- If appropriate, the College may contact the Designated Manager, the pharmacist who is responsible for overseeing the operations of the pharmacy, to obtain records to identify the responsible pharmacy professional(s)
- The complainant may be asked to sign and return a consent form allowing the College to speak with other healthcare professionals involved in the complaint
- If you are filing a complaint on behalf of another person, that person will be required to sign the consent form or, if you have Power of Attorney for personal care of the patient, please submit a copy confirming that you are legally able to act on the patient’s behalf
Step 2: Notice of Complaint
- The pharmacy professional will be issued a Notice of Complaint (NOC) advising them that a complaint has been filed against them, along with a copy of the complaint
- The pharmacy professional has 30 days to provide the College with their written response to the complaint and any additional information, including pharmacy records that may be requested by the College
- The complainant will be given the pharmacy professional’s response for review and is given the opportunity to provide the College with comments to that response
Step 3: The Investigation
- A complaint is assigned to a single College staff member who will be the complainant’s primary point of contact while the complaint is being investigated
- At the beginning of the investigation, a College staff member will call the complainant to introduce themselves, confirm the issues in the complaint, explain the complaints process, and answer any questions the complainant may have about the process.
- Each complaint is impartially investigated by College staff in a confidential manner. Only the pharmacy professional and the complainant will be kept informed of the status of the complaint and will receive a copy of the decision
- In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, the College asks the complainant and the pharmacy professional to refrain from any communication with each other about the matter once the complaint has been filed
- The College expects that the complainant and the pharmacy professional will fully cooperate with the investigation
- Withdrawal of a Complaint: At any point after a complaint is filed, a complainant can request to withdraw their complaint against the pharmacy professional. All withdrawal requests are reviewed by the College Registrar who determines whether it is in the public interest to grant the withdrawal of the complaint. If the Registrar is of the view that it is in the public interest to continue with the complaint investigation, the withdrawal will be denied, the investigation will be completed, and the results of the investigation will be reviewed by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC).
Step 4: Results of the Investigation
- After the investigation has been completed, and all the supporting documentation is received, the results of the investigation are reviewed by a panel of the ICRC.
- A panel of the ICRC is composed of professional and publicly appointed members of the College’s Board of Directors and professional committee appointees. College staff are not members of the ICRC and therefore they are not involved in ICRC’s decision-making process
- The ICRC reviews the information gathered during the investigation and makes a decision about how to dispose of the complaint
Step 5: Decision Making
The ICRC has a number of options available to it. Depending on the nature of the complaint, a panel of the ICRC can:
- Take no action against the pharmacy professional
This often occurs when the ICRC is of the view that the pharmacy professional’s conduct and/or actions appear to be in compliance with the standards of practice of the profession, the generally accepted standard adopted by members of the profession, and all other relevant laws and regulations that apply. This can also be the outcome if there is insufficient information for the ICRC to take action.
- Issue a caution to the pharmacy professional
Cautions require the pharmacy professional to appear before a panel of the ICRC, providing the panel with an opportunity to have a “face to face” discussion with the professional about the concerns relating to the professional’s practice and to hear from the them about the changes he or she will make to avoid a similar incident from occurring in the future.
- Require the pharmacy professional to complete a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP)
The ICRC has the ability to require a pharmacy professional to take specified remedial courses. The courses would be tailored to address concerns about a professional’s practice, formulated by the panel after it reviewed the investigation report.
- Refer the pharmacy professional to another panel of the ICRC for health inquiries
Where the investigation reveals that the pharmacy professional’s conduct may be caused by an illness, disorder or substance abuse, the panel may refer to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries.
- Refer the pharmacy professional and specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
A small fraction of complaints that are reviewed by the ICRC are referred to the Discipline Committee. These complaints usually involve serious matters where the panel is of the view that the pharmacy professional may have been dishonest, in breach of trust, appears to show a willful disregard of professional values, and/or appears to be unable to practice professionally or competently. Learn more about the College’s discipline process
- Take other action consistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA), 1991
The ICRC has the ability to take other action it considers appropriate as long as it is consistent with the RHPA
Watch this whiteboard video to learn more about the options available to the ICRC.
Step 6: ICRC Complaints Decisions and Review Process
- Once the ICRC disposes of a complaint, both the complainant and the pharmacy professional will receive a copy of the ICRC’s decision.
- The ICRC attempts to resolve or close a complaint within 150 days of it being filed. This time period may be shorter or longer depending on the nature and complexity of the complaint and investigation.
- Either the pharmacy professional or the complainant may request a review of the decision and reasons by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) unless the decisions is a referral to the Discipline Committee or to another panel of the ICRC to conduct health inquiries.
Complaints are a confidential process. This does not mean that you can remain anonymous or that your name will not be provided to the pharmacy professional who is the subject of the complaint. The results of an investigation remain on the pharmacy professional’s file and are available to the public when pharmacy professionals are required to complete specified continuing education or a remedial program (SCERP), required to attend before a panel of the ICRC to receive an oral caution, or when specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence against the professional are referred to the Discipline Committee. Information about the SCERP, oral caution or a referral of allegations to the Discipline Committee is considered public information and is posted to our website’s Public Register.
On our website we outline what information is made public and not made public about pharmacy professionals and what information is made public and not made public about pharmacies.
Note that discipline hearings are public proceedings. View upcoming discipline hearings.
If you are the Subject of a Complaint
The complaints process is principled and balanced to ensure fairness to all parties, while at all times protecting the public. Read more about what to do if you are the subject of a complaint.