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Duty to Report FAQ

  1. What is a health professional's duty to report?
  2. Who can be reported?
  3. What is reportable?
  4. What if I am unsure about whether something is reportable?
  5. Can I be sued for reporting?
  6. What happens if I become aware of a reportable situation but do not report it?
  7. Is my confidentiality protected when I report a colleague or other health care professional?
  8. What happens when the health care professional has been reported to their regulatory college?
  9. How do I make a report?
  10. Can a group of individuals make a report together?
  11. What sections of the Health Professions Act outline my responsibilities for duty to report?




1. What is a health professional's duty to report?

All health professionals who are regulated under B.C.'s Health Professions Act (HPA) have a professional, ethical and legal responsibility to report any unsafe practice of any other regulated health practitioner.

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2. Who can be reported?

The duty to report under the HPA applies across professions. This means that a professional who belongs to one regulatory college is legally required to report a professional from any regulatory college (including their own).

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3. What is reportable?

Regulated health practitioners are legally required to report if they believe on reasonable and probable grounds that another regulated health practitioner's continued practice of their profession might constitute a danger to the public. This may cover a wide range of conduct.

For example, practitioners are obligated to report when they have a good reason to believe that the public is in danger as a result of another practitioner suffering from a physical or mental ailment, an emotional or cognitive disturbance, or an addiction to drugs or alcohol that impairs their ability to practice.

Sexual misconduct must also be reported. Where concerns about sexual misconduct are based on information provided by a patient in the context of a professional - patient relationship, the consent of the patient or their parent/guardian must be obtained before making the report.

Where a professional is hospitalized for psychiatric care or treatment, or for treatment for addiction to alcohol or drugs, and is therefore unable to practice, the chief administrator of the hospital or private facility, and every treating physician, is obligated to report the professional to the regulatory body with which they are registered.

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4. What if I am unsure about whether something is reportable?

It can be a difficult decision to decide whether to report a colleague to their regulatory body. A duty to report can be triggered by "reasonable and probable grounds" that a reportable situation exists. Such grounds exist when a health professional believes there is a reliable basis for their suspicion and when a reasonable person in our society would also believe that the evidence supports such a belief.

If a health professional is concerned, they should contact the college of the professional in question to obtain clarification about the situation, or to determine if it is necessary to make a formal report. Making an inquiry (without specifying the name of the practitioner) does not automatically turn into a formal report.

In non-emergency circumstances that concern potentially substandard practice, it may be appropriate to contact the professional directly for clarification before deciding whether a report to their regulatory college is necessary. CDSBC occasionally receives complaints from dentists about colleagues that are founded on simple misunderstandings that could have easily been clarified without the need to report to CDSBC.

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5. Can I be sued for reporting?

No. The HPA provides immunity to health professionals who comply with the duty to report as long as the report is made in good faith and is based on reasonable and probable grounds.

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6. What happens if I become aware of a reportable situation but do not report it?

A health professional is in violation of the law if they do not meet their legal, professional or ethical responsibility to report a practitioner under the HPA's duty to report requirements.

In addition, the practitioner may be subject to disciplinary measures taken by their regulatory college and may also be the subject of a complaint filed by the college to which the professional with the impairment, ailment, addiction or ethical issue belongs.

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7. Is my confidentiality protected when I report a colleague or other health care professional?

It is understandable that a professional may wish to protect their identity when reporting a fellow practitioner, as this may be an uncomfortable situation; however, the duty to report is a legal obligation that is necessary for the protection of the public and no regulatory college can guarantee anonymity when a report is made.

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8. What happens when the health care professional has been reported to their regulatory college?

Regulatory bodies investigate and assess reports submitted under the duty to report based on the protection of the public, the maintenance of public confidence in professions and the legitimate expectations of complainants, professionals and the public that allegations will be fairly assessed and investigated.

While public safety is always the primary concern, B.C.'s health regulators also strive to respect the dignity and privacy of the health professional. Appropriate treatment and medical monitoring may be put in place if warranted.

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9. How do I make a report?

Where you are required to make a formal report, you must submit the report in writing to the regulatory body with which the health professional is registered. Practitioners are advised to contact the college of the individual they are reporting to discuss the format and procedure for submitting their concern.

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10. Can a group of individuals make a report together?

In a situation where several practitioners share a concern, they may submit one report. However, the report must be signed by all the practitioners submitting it.

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11. What sections of the Health Professions Act outline my responsibilities for duty to report?

You can find information about duty to report in the following sections of the HPA:

25.6 Medical examination to assess whether curtailment of practice should be ordered

32.1 Definition for sections 32.2 and 32.3

32.2 Duty to report registrant

32.3 Duty to report respecting hospitalized registrant

32.4 Duty to report sexual misconduct

32.5 Immunity

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