DISCLOSURE TO THE PUBLIC
Generally, where a podiatrist has been the subject of reportable discipline by the College since its inception in early 2011, this will be noted on the College register and website.
The College must weigh the competing interests of the public’s right and need to know information about complaint matters at either the investigation or hearing stage, against the privacy interests of a registrant who is the subject of a complaint and the complainant.
The Health Professions Act (HPA) lays out a basic framework to help address the competing interests that includes mandatory disclosure for some circumstances, the requirement to withhold certain information in others and the authority of the Board to make decisions regarding the release in the public interest of otherwise confidential information.
Generally under the HPA, the CPS-BC must disclose information to the public about complaints that are ‘serious matters’; that is, cases that would usually lead to a cancellation or suspension, or limitations or restrictions on a practice.
Even without the mandatory duty under the HPA, the College would disclose this information on its own initiative. The public and the profession have a need to know, in order for the public interest to be protected.
This applies also to cases that involve interim conditions or restrictions including suspension, imposed on a practice pending the outcome of an investigation by the Inquiry Committee or a hearing before the Discipline Committee. With the exception noted below, it applies regardless whether the sanctions are imposed by consent or by Order.
Where a registrant has a physical or mental/emotional ailment or substance dependence condition that has impaired their ability to practice; information that would identify the registrant or their ailment/condition must be withheld.
In no case will a complainant be publicly identified without their consent.
The College and BC’s other health regulators (BCHR) have adopted a Public Notification Framework that provides for a unified approach to the publication of complaints and discipline information under the HPA.
The College does not disclose to the public or publish information about an ongoing investigation unless the matter has become public and there is a need to ensure that the public has accurate information.
An exception to this arises where interim conditions or restrictions including suspension are imposed on a practice pending the outcome of an investigation or hearing (see above).
Pending Discipline Hearings
Under the HPA, there is no obligation to issue public disclosure of pending hearings.
The HRBC Public Notification Framework contemplates public disclosure of a citation prior to a hearing.
The current College bylaws provide that information about the date, time and subject matter of the hearing must be provided to any person on request. The pending revised bylaws go further and expressly authorize the Registrar to publish a notice of hearing.