As part our ongoing transparency initiatives, the College is providing the public and dentists with more information about how the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee makes decisions. In evaluating cases, the ICRC now uses a risk assessment framework to guide panels in reaching an outcome. This means that in evaluating each and every complaint and Registrar’s investigation report, the panels consider the degree of risk to patient safety. Panels will explain their analysis of risk in their written reasons for decision, which each party will receive.
Degree of risk to patients is the overarching measure that the panels are using to determine which cases pose a moderate or high risk and require a public outcome and those that pose a low risk or no risk and result in non-public outcomes.
Depending on the facts of the case, the risk assessment tool helps the panel to measure its level of concern for a number of clinical and/or practice issues including:
- patient harm
- clinical knowledge & skill
- professional judgment
- billing issues
For every case, the panel will also consider other factors about the dentist including:
- if insight or willingness to address issues has been demonstrated;
- whether the conduct included dishonesty;
- any prior conduct decisions;
- cooperation with the College;
- any other mitigating or aggravating factors.
The College recognizes that both dentists and members of the public would benefit from having more information about the factors considered by panels in its decision-making. For example, panels will consider how a dentist responds to a complaint, either by showing insight into a deficiency and taking a remedial course right away, or on the other hand, by responding unprofessionally.
Together with some other regulatory health colleges, we developed transparency principles to help shape recommendations for what additional information about health care providers should be made available to the public. While each College passed its own by-laws and developed its own tool for ICRC panels to use, the risk assessment framework, terminology of outcomes and whether or not the outcomes are public are common to doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and others.
True to our values, we are demonstrating our commitment to transparency by posting on our website a copy of the Risk Assessment Framework and tool that our panels are using. The purpose of the framework is to ensure consistent, fair and transparent decision making that is guided by the panel’s analysis and assessment of risk.