Bill would require doctor cautions, complaints to be public - Toronto Star Oct 21/14


Monday, October 20/14

Join us for a Peaceful Protest

This will be a peaceful protest to promote accountability for all harmed patients. 

We are the Coalition for Physician and Surgeon Oversight 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) describes its mandate as follows: “To serve and protect the public interest by regulating the practice of the profession and governing in accordance with the Regulated Health Professions Act.”

Despite this, the CPSO has evolved so that its focus has become more about protecting physicians than patients. It is perhaps natural that doctors tend to believe that their colleagues always do the right thing. Sadly, not all doctors are careful and responsible all the time, and some doctors routinely act in ways that harm their patients. Sometimes, doctors cause extreme harm and death. The CPSO has shown itself ineffective in identifying and taking action against members in such cases. Consequently, we believe that the public is not being adequately protected, and we believe that the CPSO must be replaced as the body responsible for monitoring and taking disciplinary action where physicians are failing to meet safe practice standards.

We will be starting at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario  at 8:30 a.m. and then moving on to Queens' Park.

click here to view PRESS RELEASE



Families Devastated by Physician Negligence Protest Lack of Accountability

The Coalition for Physician and Surgeon Oversight ( invites all interested parties to join them at 8:30 a.m. on Monday Oct 20, in front of 80 College St, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) building.   From there the group will walk to Queen’s Park to protest Ontario’s lack of accountability for malpractice, and to demand change.

Every year, 40,000 Canadians die as the result of medical treatments1.  Prescription drugs, taken as directed are the fourth leading cause of all deaths2.    Some of these preventable tragedies are definitely due to physician carelessness, ignorance, and disregard for patient safety.

There are no deterrents or disincentives for Doctors who provide bad care.  It is practically impossible to successfully sue doctors.  The Criminal Code specifically requires that medical treatments be provided with reasonable knowledge, skill and care.  It defines criminal negligence as acting with a reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.  When death results, criminal negligence is an indictable offence punishable by up to life in prison3.  So, Canadian law provides for recourse in cases of serious medical negligence, but in practice it is not used.

The CPSO is supposed to regulate the practice of medicine to protect and serve the public interest.   Naturally, they protect the majority of physicians who offer their patients the best possible care.  Unfortunately, they also protect the few doctors who are ignorant and careless.  

The CPSO Annual report shows that of the 2,146 public complaints it dealt with in 2013, no action was taken for 1,256 (59%), and physicians were given advice, issued cautions or required to take an educational course in 828 (39%).  Only 52 (2%) went to Discipline Committee and most of those ended up receiving a caution or an educational course as well.   In Ontario, doctors who cause death and serious harm do not lose their licenses and seldom have practice restrictions imposed.   To the CPSO, receiving written advice or taking a course is a harsh result, reserved for egregious malpractice.  

Bereaved and damaged families find it upsetting that the CPSO thinks these are suitable consequences for negligence causing serious harm or death.   Outraged people who appeal to the Health Professionals Appeal and Review Board quickly discover that HPARB cannot question physician decisions, and can only send cases back to the CPSO for reconsideration, which it does only 6% of the time.

The CPSO failure to serve the public interest has been known for a long time.  In 1997 MPP Monte Kwinter got the Medicine Act amended to protect the right to offer  alternative therapies.   In 2000, Health Minister Elizabeth Witmer engaged KPMG to examine how the CPSO functions.   The problems KPMG identified were never solved.   The United Kingdom solved its problems by replacing physician self-regulation with oversight by an independent body. wants Ontario to do the same.



[1] “The Canadian Adverse Events Study: the incidence of adverse events among hospital patients”, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), May 25th 2004,

2Over a decade ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. 

3Criminal Code of Canada, Sections 216, 219 and 220


ICRC* CPSO Disposition of Public Complaints, 2013   





No action



Advice to M.D.



Caution in writing



Caution in person



Disciplines Committee















Complaints appealed to HPARB**



HPARB returns for reassessment






*Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee

**Health Professionals Appeal and Review Board

*** Specified Continuing Educational or Remediation Program

source:  CPSO 2013 Annual Report



New Investigations 2013, CPSO



Public Complaints


Registrar’s Investigations


Incapacity Investigations




source:  CPSO 2013 Annual Report






Attachment: Excerpts from the criminal code of canada



Duties Tending to Preservation of Life

Duty of persons undertaking acts dangerous to life

216. Every one who undertakes to administer surgical or medical treatment to another person or to do any other lawful act that may endanger the life of another person is, except in cases of necessity, under a legal duty to have and to use reasonable knowledge, skill and care in so doing.

*      R.S., c. C-34, s. 198.

Criminal Negligence

Criminal negligence

*      219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who

o   (a) in doing anything, or

o   (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,

shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

*      Definition of “duty”

(2) For the purposes of this section, “duty” means a duty imposed by law.

*      R.S., c. C-34, s. 202.

220. Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

*      (a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and

*      (b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

*      R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 220;

*      1995, c. 39, s. 141.

Causing bodily harm by criminal negligence

221. Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.




*      222. (1) A person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being.

*      Kinds of homicide

(2) Homicide is culpable or not culpable.

(3) Homicide that is not culpable is not an offence.

(4) Culpable homicide is murder or manslaughter or infanticide.

*      Idem

(5) A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being,

o   (a) by means of an unlawful act;

o   (b) by criminal negligence;

o   (c) by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or

o   (d) by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.


Death that might have been prevented

224. Where a person, by an act or omission, does any thing that results in the death of a human being, he causes the death of that human being notwithstanding that death from that cause might have been prevented by resorting to proper means.

*      R.S., c. C-34, s. 207.

Death from treatment of injury

225. Where a person causes to a human being a bodily injury that is of itself of a dangerous nature and from which death results, he causes the death of that human being notwithstanding that the immediate cause of death is proper or improper treatment that is applied in good faith.