A recently released report on the status of patient complaints against doctors in Ontario has found that it is taking too long to resolve thousands of discipline cases, including unfounded complaints.
Retired judge Stephen Goudge says that The College of Physicians and Surgeons should appoint a patient advocate to those who want to file grievances. The appointee would also set up a mediation system to deal with the backlogged complaint process.
Discipline cases against doctors in the province cost Canada’s medical-liability agency more than those all other provinces combined. Many of these complaints are dismissed because they are deemed to have little merit and result in little to no action against the doctor(s).
On average, the college received 2,412 complaints a year from 2010 to 2014, close to 50 a week, according to Goudge’s report. Goudge also noted that Ontario has 40 percent of the country’s doctors but 50 percent of the discipline cases.
Using Alberta’s college as a model, Goudge pointed to the use of an advocate who works with patients upon filing a complaint to help them understand if it fits the college’s mandate or be handled elsewhere.
Goudge’s report was sent to the Ontario government in February 2016 but kept secret until the Ontario Ministry of Health released the report online on April 30, 2018.