Concerns about an Optometrist
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.
The Complaints Process
A formal complaint must be submitted to the College in writing or by recording (such as audio or video).
Accommodation is available throughout all stages of the complaints process. Accommodation is also available if you need help submitting your complaint in writing or in a recorded format.
What happens after I submit my complaint?
- The College will send you a written notice confirming your complaint and explaining the process.
- Additional information may be requested, such as reports from other health care providers involved in your care.
- The optometrist will be notified of the complaint within 14 days and will receive a copy of your complaint.
- 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.
Who reviews and makes decisions on complaints?
- Information gathered through the investigation process will be submitted to a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC).
- A panel of the ICRC is made up of optometrists and members of the public appointed by the Ontario government.
How does the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) make decisions?
- 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.
- When reviewing complaints, the ICRC considers the degree of risk to patient safety and to the public.
- 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 ICRC’s Risk Assessment Framework.
Can the ICRC require the optometrist to compensate or reimburse me?
The ICRC cannot make decisions about money or order an optometrist to pay financial reimbursements or damages – only provincial courts can do this.
What types of decisions can the ICRC make?
ICRC Panel decisions may include one or more of the following:
- Giving the optometrist specific advice or recommendations for improving their practise.
- Issuing 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 optometrist to another panel of the ICRC for health inquiries.
- 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 or if the optometrist’s conduct was appropriate.
Will I receive a copy of the ICRC’s decision?
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 or if the optometrist is referred to another panel of the ICRC for incapacity proceedings, no reasons for the decision will be given at this point.
Contact the College with any questions about the complaints process or for more information about how to file a complaint.
Complaints of a Sexual Nature
The College has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual abuse of patients. Contact the Investigations & Resolutions department 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.