The first thing to do if you have a concern is to talk to your oral health care professional. If you still have concerns, you can contact BCCOHP for more information or submit a written complaint.
You may contact BCCOHP with questions about the complaints process by phone or email; however, complaints are not accepted by telephone or unsigned email, and BCCOHP staff are not able to provide you with treatment advice.
If discussions with the registrant have not resolved your concern, you can submit a formal complaint in writing to BCCOHP using our complaint form. Learn how to submit a complaint.
If you are making a complaint on behalf of someone else, you must provide that person’s written consent to the investigation and release of their confidential patient information (as it pertains to the complaint). That person should also sign the complaint letter. In the complaint, you will need to clearly state your relationship to the patient. If you are a parent making a complaint on behalf of a child who is a minor, or the representative of an adult with disabilities, patient consent is not required; however, we may require a copy of the representation agreement or order.
Every patient has the right to access a full copy of their records. Patients own the information contained in their patient chart and have the right by law to access a copy of their complete dental record. Oral health care professionals are obligated by law to provide copies of what the patient has requested, including radiographs, study models and photographs. Dental offices may charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of duplicating the records.
Oral health care professionals are not allowed to withhold a patient’s records when the patient owes money for dental work. Fee disputes or other disagreements between the patient and oral health care professionals are not grounds to withhold access to, or transfer of, patient records. Oral health care professionals must also provide the patient records if another dental office requests them.
Because of BCCOHP’s workload and the complexity of many complaints, it is difficult to accurately predict how long a complaint investigation will take. Currently the average complaint is processed in approximately 12 months, but this varies depending on the complexity of the complaint and BCCOHP’s available resources. In all cases, BCCOHP endeavours to complete investigations within the timelines provided in the Health Professions Act.
BCCOHP requires that its registrants are practising competently and ethically. We have legal powers under the Health Professions Act to investigate any complaint we receive about our registrants and to address concerns that present a risk to the public. These powers include the ability to reprimand a registrant, suspend, or cancel or place limits on a registrant’s registration, and impose other sanctions. BCCOHP’s focus in resolving complaints is generally on remediation rather than punishment.
BCCOHP requires that its registrants are practising competently and ethically. This role is forward-looking, and BCCOHP’s focus is generally on remediation rather than punishment. Reviewing the summaries of complaints and their outcomes that BCCOHP publishes may give you an idea of the sorts of outcomes you can expect.
If you make a complaint, it is important that you are willing and able to provide additional information if BCCOHP requests it. Often the initial complaint does not contain all the relevant facts, or new facts are learned during the investigation. Complainants who refuse to speak with BCCOHP’s complaint investigators make it difficult (or impossible) to effectively investigate their complaint.
Complaints that have been accepted for investigation are then investigated by BCCOHP’s complaint investigators. Because of the specialized nature of oral health care, most complaint investigators are oral health care professionals themselves. As well, the complaint you submit will be provided to the oral health care professional involved and they will be asked to provide a response. In most cases, you will be provided with a copy of the oral health care professional’s response.
While BCCOHP makes every effort to ensure complaints are kept confidential, it cannot guarantee confidentiality. Our records are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and may be disclosed to other persons whose interests may be affected. Note that if a complaint results in disciplinary action being taken, the outcome may become public.
Under the Health Professions Act, any information or documents that you receive from BCCOHP during a complaint investigation must be kept private and cannot be used for any other purpose, including legal proceedings against a registrant.
Once your complaint is accepted for investigation, a complaint investigator will be assigned and an investigation will be conducted. The registrant is usually asked to provide a written response to the complaint along with the patient records. Any other dentists involved in the patient’s care may also be asked to provide a report and records.
The complaint you submit will be provided to the registrant involved and they will be asked to provide a response. Note that a complaint may be immediately dismissed by the Registrar if it is trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith, or if it concerns a matter outside BCCOHP’s powers.
No agreement that you make with an oral health care professional should keep you from filing a complaint if you have a concern.
Occasionally a complainant will ask to withdraw their complaint after the investigation is underway. Because BCCOHP’s mandate is protection of the public, this is generally not possible unless all the issues raised by the complaint have been addressed. BCCOHP views complaints as matters of public importance and generally investigates each complaint it receives to completion.
Within 30 days of the Inquiry Committee’s decision, you will receive a letter summarizing the investigation and the decision.
If you are concerned about the outcome of your complaint, you can apply for a review with the Health Professions Review Board (HPRB). The HPRB cannot order that BCCOHP discipline the registrant, or require anybody to pay money to you. Rather, the HPRB’s review looks at whether BCCOHP’s investigation of the complaint was adequate, and whether its decision was reasonable.
Learn more about the complaints process.
File a complaint using our online submission form.