Complaints against Doctors (5:XI)
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on July 8, 2023.|
All licensed physicians and surgeons who can practice in British Columbia must register with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC). As of August 31, 2020, the CPSBC amalgamated with the College of Podiatric Surgeons. Both are now considered under CPSBC. The CPSBC also amended their Bylaws to reflect these changes. You may see more information about the amalgamation here: https://www.cpsbc.ca/news/amalgamation-college-podiatric-surgeons-british-columbia.
If you wish to file a complaint against your doctor, there are four options:
- Talk to your doctor
- File a complaint with the CPSBC
- Speak to a lawyer or the police for advice if you believe your doctor has violated a criminal law
- Speak to a lawyer for advice about suing the doctor (i.e., medical malpractice)
Even if you file a complaint with the College, you are still able to take steps 3, 4, or both. There is no specific time frame in which to file a complaint; however, the sooner it is filed, the easier it will be to investigate.
To file a complaint, there are three steps:
- Complete and submit a Complaint Form (found on the College’s website).
- Make the complaint in writing; include your name, address, telephone number, the name and address of the doctor, the facts of the incident, and permission to send a copy of the complaint to your doctor.
- Send the written complaint via mail, fax or email to:
Complaints Department - College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC
Once the College reviews the written complaint, it will begin an investigation. This includes obtaining further relevant information and, potentially, relevant medical records. The physician will respond to the complaint. The College’s Inquiry Committee (made up of senior doctors and members of the public) will conduct a review of your complaint. If the College finds the complaint is valid, the physician may be expected to change aspects of their practice or undertake further education. The College may also issue remedial advice or reprimand the physician if there is a significant departure from the CMA Code of Ethics. In extreme cases, the College may prohibit a physician from practicing medicine.
Please note that there is a special procedure for sexual misconduct complaints. You can either phone the College immediately at 604-733-7758 or submit a letter outlining the incident.
For further information:
Canadian Bar Association
College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia
- NOTE: There are a number of professional colleges that regulate healthcare professionals in BC. Each college may have its own policies and procedures for complaints against their respective healthcare professionals. For a full list of the current professional colleges, visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/partners/colleges-boards-and-commissions.
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