FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How does a person make a complaint about a podiatrist ?
A complaint must be made in writing to the College. See more on how to make a complaint.
2. Who may make a complaint about a podiatrist ?
Any individual who has a concern, based on evidence, about a podiatrist’s standard of conduct or competence may make a complaint to the College.
3. Does the College accept complaints about podiatrists fees or billing ?
The CPodSBC has regulatory authority with respect to fees and bills where the complaint is about misconduct. There must be more than a dispute about the amount of the fee. There must be evidence of a culpable level of unethical conduct, such as:
• charging for services that were not provided,
• failure to provide a patient with a reasonable estimate of the cost of recommended services,
• failure to obtain informed consent for the services rendered,
• misleading advertising with respect to the fees to be charged,
• charging unconscionably high fees, or
• failure to provide a patient with a fully itemized bill upon the patient’s request.
See more about complaints about podiatry fees.
4. Can a person make a complaint on behalf of another individual ?
Yes. An individual may write and file a complaint on behalf of another person, but must provide the other’s written consent, if possible, to the complaint, the investigation and release of their confidential patient information (as it pertains to the complaint). If practicable the other person should sign the complaint letter.
A parent may make a complaint on behalf of a minor child.
A guardian or representative may make a complaint on behalf of their charge; note that the College may require proof of the guardianship or representation agreement or order.
5. Is there a limitation period for making a complaint about a podiatrist to the College ?
There is no specified time limit within which a patient must file a complaint. However, the amount of time that passes can affect the ability of the College to effectively and defensibly investigate a matter. For that reason, a complaint should be filed as soon as practicable after the relevant events have occurred.
6. How long does the complaint process take ?
The time it takes to complete a complaint investigation varies depending on a number of factors including the nature of the complaint and the number of issues, witnesses, practitioners and medical records involved, the sheer volume and complexity of the evidence, and number of inquiries and interviews necessary, the response times from witnesses, and the workload and available resources of the College. Most complaints take a number of months or longer to reach completion; the simpler matters will take less time. See more.
7. Does the registrant who is the subject of the complaint have the right to respond to it ?
Yes; the registrant must be given the opportunity to respond.
8. Does the complainant receive a copy of the registrant’s response ?
Yes, in most cases. In rare cases part of a response may be withheld for reasons set out in the Health Professions Act.
9. What is the nature of the complainant’s role in the complaint process ?
In a complaint to a professional regulatory body, the complainant is not a claimant, as the process is not for the purposes of compensation. Rather it is about the protection of the public at large; the complainant is essentially the primary witness to the alleged events and their evidence is crucial. The College may need to obtain further information and clarification from the complainant at any time in the process. If a matter proceeds to hearing, the complainant would normally be required to testify.
10. How confidential is the complaints process ?
Information obtained and documents developed by the College for the purpose of a complaint investigation must be kept confidential, except to the extent that disclosure is necessary for the purpose of the investigation.
The complaint must be provided to the podiatrist, or respondent, who is the subject of the complaint. Generally, only the College and the respondent registrant(s) will see the complaint at the investigation stage. Questions might be posed to, or information sought from, other relevant witnesses but they will not see the entire complaint.
While CPodSBC makes every effort to ensure complaints are kept confidential, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. College records are subject to the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; if an application for access is made, they might be disclosed to a third party but usually only if that person’s interests are affected.
Lastly, when a complaint results in disciplinary action, the outcome may become public, as required by the Health Professions Act.
11. What are the possible outcomes ?
A complaint can be dismissed, resolved by a consent resolution or sent to a hearing before the discipline committee. A dismissal can include a warning. A consent resolution can involve sanctions of various severity such as a reprimand, fine, limits or conditions on practice, course requirements, suspension or cancellation. The regulatory role is to protect the public moving forward and to remediate where appropriate rather than punish.
12. When/how/why is a complaint dismissed ?
A complaint can be dismissed if on its face it is deemed to be trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith, or raises an issue that falls outside of the regulatory authority or jurisdiction of the College. It may be dismissed if the Inquiry Committee concludes that the evidence is not capable of proving that a conduct or competence wrong occurred. Or, after a hearing the Discipline Committee will dismiss any charges that the Committee concludes are not proven.
13. Can the investigation findings be used in a civil court case against the podiatrist or another person ?
No, under the Health Professions Act, the information and documents that a complainant receives from the College relating to the complaint investigation cannot be used for any other purpose, including legal proceedings against a registrant.
14. Is it proper or effective for a podiatrist to ask a patient to sign an agreement to not file a complaint ?
No. It is unethical for a registrant to enter into such an agreement. It is also misleading because such agreements do not actually override the complainant’s right to make a complaint or affect the College’s authority and powers to investigate.
15. Can a complainant withdraw a complaint and stop a complaint investigation ?
The complainant’s evidence is likely crucial to an effective investigation; if a complainant ceases communicating with the College, it is possible that the College will close the file. However, if the matter is considered to be serious, once apprised of the allegations the College may continue to investigate and if necessary seek court orders to obtain relevant evidence.
16. Does the College report back to the complainant on the outcome ?
Yes. The College will send the complainant a letter summarizing the investigation and outcome that explains the Committee’s decision and the reasons for that decision.
17. What recourse is there for a complainant who is not satisfied with the outcome ?
A complainant may apply for a review of a complaint investigation outcome with the Health Professions Review Board (HPRB). The HPRB’s role is to review whether the investigation was adequate, and the decision reasonable. There are limits to the HPRB’s authority; they may not order that the CPodSBC discipline the registrant or require that anybody pay money to the complainant.