Doctors and other Regulated Health Professionals licensed to practice in Ontario are governed by their respective Colleges (e.g., the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario). These regulatory colleges are responsible for any discipline or sanction on the conduct of their members.
Patients can make formal complaints to the health professional’s college about a practitioner’s conduct. The colleges have no jurisdiction to compensate victims of medical malpractice. In contrast, a medical malpractice lawsuit deals with compensation for victims of medical mistakes caused by a practitioner’s negligence (wrongdoing).
The Courts hear cases in which victims claim damages against health care practitioners for injuries suffered and decide the amount of damages, if any, that should be paid. The Courts have no jurisdiction to limit the doctor’s ability to practise medicine; however, the case law generated through civil lawsuits often sets the standard for care, influences public policy and can affect legislative changes. As such, a civil lawsuit may indirectly influence how the health professions operate.
Victims of medical negligence are entitled to take both courses of action if they wish.