Mandatory reporting legally requires a dentist to provide information about themselves, another dentist or another regulated health professional to the RCDSO, other relevant regulators or authorities. It is in the interest of public safety that this critical information is brought forward as soon as possible. Dentists must comply with their legal, professional and ethical reporting obligations.
The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) sets out a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual and $200,000 for a corporation for failure to make certain types of mandatory reports.
What are dentists legally required to report?
Sexual abuse of patients
If you have reasonable and probable grounds, obtained in the course of practising the profession, to believe that another regulated health practitioner has sexually abused a patient, you must:
- File a report with the registrar of the practitioner’s regulatory college.
- File a report within 30 days, or immediately if you reasonably believe that the other practitioner will continue to sexually abuse the patient or will sexually abuse other patients.
- Make reasonable efforts to advise the patient of your duty to report. You may only disclose the patient’s name with the patient’s written consent.
- Include your name and an explanation of the alleged sexual abuse in the report. It cannot be anonymous.
Dentists are required to disclose to RCDSO:
- Findings of professional negligence or malpractice
- Findings of guilt for any offences
- Charges for any offences
- Bail conditions or restrictions and any subsequent variations
- Professional disciplinary, professional misconduct, or incompetence findings by another regulatory or licensing body in any jurisdiction
When must you disclose these findings to the College?
- As soon as possible
- Do not wait until filling out the College’s online annual licence renewal form to disclose this information
- Send the applicable information to email@example.com
Professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity
Dentists who terminate the employment or revoke, suspend or impose restrictions on the privileges of a regulated health professional for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity must:
- File a written report with the registrar of that practitioner’s regulatory college within 30 days.
- Include the name of the informant, the practitioner and a summary of the concern.
This required duty to report professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity also:
- Applies to a partnership, associateship or health professional corporation that is dissolved for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity.
- Exists even if the regulated health professional resigns before their employment is terminated or they voluntarily relinquish their privileges.
Child Abuse and Neglect
- Dentists have a duty to immediately report to a children's aid society suspected abuse or risk of harm to a child (oacas.org).
- The definition of child abuse under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) includes:
- Physical or emotional harm arising from neglect;
- Failure to supervise and protect;
- Sexual exploitation and molestation; and
- Failure to obtain required medical or other treatment.
Dentists are legally obligated to report a suspected or confirmed case of a reportable communicable disease to their local medical officer of health.
- Must be submitted as soon as possible after the initial suspicion
- Must contain the patient’s:
- name and address;
- date of birth and sex; and
- the onset date of their symptoms.
- The medical officer of health may require the dentist to provide additional information.
The Health Protection and Promotion Act's list of reportable diseases include:
- Tuberculosis; and
- Whooping cough.
Long-term Care and Retirement Homes
A dentist must immediately report any of the following suspicions related to a resident of a nursing home or retirement home facility:
- Improper or incompetent treatment or care
- Abuse or neglect
- Unlawful conduct
- Misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money or of funding provided to a licensee
You must immediately report the suspicion and related information to:
- The long-term care facility’s director; or
- The registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (www.rhra.ca).
Controlled Drugs and Substances
If a dentist finds out that a controlled substance has been lost or stolen from their office, they must:
- Report the loss or theft to the Office of Controlled Substances, Federal Minister of Health, within 10 days.
Imminent Risk of Serious Bodily Harm or Death
The law requires some health professionals to take reasonable steps to protect a person at imminent risk of serious bodily harm or death. To help eliminate or reduce a risk to a person or group of people:
- Dentists are permitted to disclose personal health care information to authorities
- Health information custodians – such as dentists – are protected from legal liability for disclosing personal health information in these circumstances if they are acting reasonably and in good faith