Inquiry requests and processes
The role of the Syndic
The mandate of the Office of the Syndic is to protect the public by ensuring that the professional practice of OPPQ members complies with current legislation. It is the Syndic’s duty to investigate an OPPQ professional member upon learning that member does not comply with the Professional Code, the Code of Ethics or any other rulesadopted by OPPQ.
The Syndic works independently and in complete confidentiality.
Request to hold an inquiry
Anyone who observes an irregularity in the delivery of physiotherapy services can submit an inquiry request:
Any other duly signed inquiry request form will also be accepted. Once completed, the request must be forwarded to the Office of the Syndic for evaluation.
It should be noted that an inquiry request is not the ideal tool for claiming damages resulting from malpractice, as this falls under the jurisdictions of civil courts.
Conducting an inquiry
When conducting an inquiry, the Office of the Syndic gathers all the information and evidence required to open a file.
To get a better understanding of the scope of the situation at hand, the Office of the Syndic first contacts the person requesting the inquiry (requester) to get his/her version of the facts.
The identity of the person requesting the inquiry (the requester) remains confidential at all times. However, if the nature of the physiotherapy services provided must be assessed, the patient’s name must be disclosed to the professional so certain information can be obtained. On the other hand, the Office of the Syndic will ensure that the member under investigation does not contact the requester. On occasion the Syndic contacts others who have knowledge of the facts in question or who may help clarify the situation.
The Syndic is responsible for informing the requester about the progress of the inquiry, which can take several months, depending on its complexity.
At any stage of the inquiry, the requester may be assisted by another person to facilitate the process.
The outcome of an inquiry
Once the information gathered is analyzed and the evidence examined, the Syndic will inform the requester of his/her decision. There are three possible outcomes:
- In cases where there is no regulatory or ethical breach, the inquiry is closed.
- In certain situations, when the alleged facts allow, the Syndic may suggest that the requester and member settle by conciliation, provided both parties approve of this method. The Syndic conducting the inquiry is then responsible for the conciliation and compliance with settlement conditions. However, conciliation is not an option if the inquiry involves charges of sexual misconduct or if the public’s protection is compromised.
- In cases where a member is in serious breach of the Code of Ethics or any other rules governing professional practice, the Syndic may file a complaint with the Disciplinary Council. Disciplinary actions will be imposed in the event members are found guilty of the alleged offenses. These measures are intended to punish members so that they correct their wrongful conduct and serve as examples to all members.
The inquiry request and disciplinary process are free of charge for requesters.
In all cases, the Syndic may make recommendations to members to ensure they change their professional practices so as to avoid repeating the offensive acts. The Syndic may also report to the Professional Inspection Committee on issues related to professional competence and record keeping.
If requesters are not satisfied with the outcome of the inquiry, they have 30 days to request an opinion from the OPPQ Review Committee.
Professional misconduct of a sexual nature
The Office of the Syndic has a zero tolerance policy regarding professional misconduct of a sexual nature. Any professional relationship that leads a member to breach the bond of trust with patients by engaging in sexual relations, inappropriate touching, or verbal abuse of a sexual nature will lead to the filing of a complaint with the Disciplinary Council.
Disputing professional fees
Before starting physiotherapy treatment, the patient must be informed of the fees charged for professional services. Any patient disputing the fees an OPPQ member has billed has recourse to conciliation and, if needed, arbitration to seek a resolution.
To resolve the dispute, the patient must first write the Syndic within 60 days of receipt of the billing statement to request conciliation. The Syndic will determine its admissibility and may require the member or patient to provide any information or document deemed necessary.
The patient may request arbitration within 30 days of receipt of the Syndic’s conciliation report. An Arbitration Council, independent of the Office of the Syndic, is appointed to resolve the dispute. The Council hears all parties, receives their evidence, and adopts the appropriate procedural rules. A ruling will be announced within 60 days of the end of the hearing. This ruling is final and without appeal.