Investigating Physician-Related Complaints

Complaints Rising

Complaints annually received by the College continue to rise significantly. Our volume of complaints has increased 44% over last year. The College does not view the number of complaints as a reflection of the quality of care delivered by physicians. This high turn upwards of complaints can be seen as a measure of the general pressures building within the overall healthcare system itself.

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt our healthcare delivery is under tremendous strain. With resources stretched beyond limits, patient frustration, fear, and anger spill over. The culminating frayed nerves are evidenced both by the volume and substance of the many complaints investigated this past year.

Investigating Complaints

The high-stakes undertaking of investigating complaints involves a breakdown of trust in the patient-doctor relationship. The College is legally required to investigate all complaints. 

We value the importance of complaints as a mechanism of public safety and professional accountability but recognize the emotional burden they author.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the College has had a full-time Public Support Advisor. Trained as a social worker, the Public Support Advisor supports the public complainant throughout the investigation process, answering questions and explaining the next steps. The Public Support Advisor has fielded well over a thousand inquiries from the public in 2021. Where appropriate, she explores resolution by reaching out to the physician concerned, explaining the patient’s experience, understanding the physician’s perspective, and clarifying the College’s expectations. 

Recognizing Commitment

The College is grateful to the physicians and members of the public that take on the important and emotionally difficult work of investigating complaints.

The College is grateful to the physicians and members of the public that take on the important and emotionally difficult work of investigating complaints. We are also grateful to the Physician Navigator Program of DoctorsNS, which supports physicians through the stress of a regulatory investigation.

The College has six full-time committees comprised of physicians and members of the public to investigate complaints. These committees are trained in a trauma-informed, culturally competent approach to the investigation of complaints.

We wish to express our gratitude to all the public for coming forward with their complaints and to the members of the investigation committees who undertake this work with thoughtfulness and diligence.

Complaints Closed in 2021

2021 Closed Complaints

By PRImary Category of practice deficiency


2021 Closed Complaints

Complaints Received: 6-Year Overview

Complaints Received

6-YEAR OVERVIEW: 2016-2021

The College received 212 more complaints in 2021 compared to 2016.


increase in complaints

over The Past 6 Years