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    Information for patients and optometrists:
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  • Optometrists have an important job to provide patients with skilled vision care. As the regulatory College, it’s our job to ensure the care you receive is safe and that your optometrist acts in a professional manner.

    If you have questions or concerns about your optometrist’s conduct or the care you received, speak to your optometrist first to see if the issue can be resolved. If you are unable to resolve the issue, you may wish to file a formal complaint with the College.


    Alternative Dispute Resolution

    In certain cases, the College may be able to offer ways other than a formal investigation to quickly resolve minor complaints.

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a process where a mediator works with both the complainant and the optometrist to resolve the problem in a way that suits both parties.

    ADR is confidential and without prejudice, which means any decision made during ADR does not necessarily mean the optometrist has admitted they were at fault, nor does it remove any rights from the complainant. Both the complainant and the optometrist must agree to take part in ADR, and either party can withdraw from the process at any time.

    Formal investigations are put on hold during the ADR process and will only resume if the mediator confirms an agreement cannot be reached.

    If an agreement is reached and approved by the College Registrar, then the matter is considered resolved.

    Learn more about the College’s ADR process.


    The Complaints Process

    A formal complaint must be submitted to the College in writing or by recording (such as audio or video).

    To submit your complaint in writing, complete the Complaint Form in either English or French. Recordings can be submitted by email to complaints@collegeoptom.on.ca.

    What Happens Next

    1. Once you have submitted your formal complaint, the College will send you a written notice explaining the process. Additional information may be requested, such as reports from other health care providers involved in your care.
    2. The optometrist will be notified of the complaint within 14 days and will receive a copy of your written complaint.
    3. The optometrist will have a chance to respond to the complaint. You will receive a copy of this response so that you can hear the optometrist’s side of the story and you will have the opportunity to comment.
    4. Information gathered through the investigation process will be submitted to a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). This panel is made up of optometrists and members of the public appointed by the provincial government.
    5. The College takes a risk-based approach to its investigation process. In reviewing cases, the ICRC uses a Risk Assessment Framework to guide its decision-making. This means, when reviewing complaints and Registrar’s Reports, the panels consider the degree of risk to patient safety. Panels also explain the level of risk in their written decision, which is provided to both the optometrist and the patient. Learn more about the College’s Risk Assessment Framework.
    6. The panel may be able to come to a decision at its first meeting or may need further information from you or from the optometrist. In some cases, more than one panel meeting will be needed to reach a decision.
    7. You and the optometrist will receive a copy of the final decision and the reasons for the decision. If the case is referred to the Discipline Committee, no reasons for the decision will be given at this point.
    8. The ICRC cannot make decisions about money or order an optometrist to pay financial reimbursements or damages – only provincial courts can do this. Panel decisions may include:
      • Giving the optometrist specific advice or recommendations for improving their practise.
      • Giving the optometrist a verbal caution.
      • Requiring the optometrist take additional education or training.
      • Restricting how the optometrist can practise.
      • Referring the issue to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing if serious issues of incompetence or professional misconduct are identified.
      • Referring the issue to the Fitness to Practise Committee if health concerns are identified.
      • Choosing to take no action if the information does not support the allegations made in the complaint.

    Contact the College with any questions about the complaints process or for more information about how to file a complaint.

    The Right to Appeal

    If you or the optometrist believe that the panel’s investigation was inadequate or the decision was unreasonable, you may request a review by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, an independent government agency. Appeals are available except in cases where the panel referred the matter to the Discipline Committee or Fitness to Practice Committee.

    Complaints of a Sexual Nature

    The College has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual abuse of patients. Contact the Coordinator, Investigations if you have experienced sexual abuse by an optometrist, including physically or verbally inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature.

    Patients who allege that they have experienced sexual abuse by optometrists can access funding for therapy and counselling, which is paid directly to the therapist and is available from the time a complaint is filed. Learn more about this funding through the Patient Relations Program.