Concerns About a Respiratory Therapist?

Information for the Public of Ontario

The College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario (CRTO) is responsible for regulating the practice of Respiratory Therapy in Ontario. Our mission is to ensure that Respiratory Therapy services provided to the public by its Members are delivered in a safe and ethical manner.

People who have concerns about a Respiratory Therapist may contact the CRTO. There are many ways we can help. People often find it difficult to speak to a health care professional about a problem directly. Sometimes, the CRTO can help you to communicate with the Respiratory Therapist so that you can resolve the problem together. Alternatively, concerns about the conduct or care provided by the Respiratory Therapist can be addressed through the complaints process. The CRTO will make every effort to ensure that your concerns are handled with sensitivity.

How does the process start?

The law requires that in order to be considered a “complaint”, your concern must be received in a recorded format. Most often this is done by putting your complaint in writing and sending it to the CRTO by mail or email. The following information should be included wherever possible:

  • Your name, address and contact information
    (home and work phone numbers, fax number, email address);

  • The name of the patient/client if you are submitting the complaint on his or her behalf;

  • The name of the Respiratory Therapist(s) you are complaining about (if you do not know the name of the Respiratory Therapist please provide as much detail and identifying information as possible);

  • Details of the problem:
    • specific concerns about the behaviour/care/treatment
    • date(s) and if possible the time the event(s) occurred
    • where the event(s) occurred (including the name of the hospital/organization)
    • The name and address of any other person who may have information

  • Any additional information

If you would like to discuss your concern with someone at the CRTO prior to forwarding your complaint, please see the “Who do I contact for more information?” section at the end of the page.


Who can complain?

Anyone has the right to complain to the CRTO about the professional conduct or care provided by a Respiratory Therapist. Although there is no time limit to bring forward a concern, you should let us know about it as soon as possible.

What happens next?

As soon as we receive a complaint it will be filed with the Registrar of the CRTO. Your complaint will be acknowledged and referred to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). A Panel (a small group of the Committee that includes at least two Respiratory Therapists and at least one member of the public) will consider the complaint.

As part of the process, the College must inform the Member that they have had a complaint made against him or her and provide the Member with a copy of the complaint. The Respiratory Therapist will also be advised that they have the right to respond to the complaint. In most cases this response will be shared with you, as the complainant, and you will be asked to comment on it. You may also be asked to consent to the release of any relevant medical records. All of these documents will be provided to the Panel for consideration. It is not uncommon for the Panel to request a more formal and detailed investigation in order to obtain additional information. In this case an investigator, appointed by the Registrar, will investigate the complaint. This may include interviewing witnesses, obtaining medical records and other documents, and speaking with co-workers and employers.

Who decides?

A Panel of the ICRC carefully reviews all the documents and makes a decision as to how the complaint should be resolved. Neither you nor the Respiratory Therapist attends the ICRC meeting. The Panel must make this decision within 150 days of the complaint with the CRTO.

What can the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee do?

Under the law there are a number of ways the Committee can proceed including:

 a. Taking no action.

b. Requiring the member to appear before a Panel to be cautioned.

c. Referring specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee if the allegations are related to the complaint.

d. Referring the member to another panel of the ICRC for a health inquiries investigation – that is, to investigate whether the Member’s physical or mental condition may be affecting his or her ability to practice Respiratory Therapy safely.

e. Taking action the ICRC considers appropriate (such as negotiating a voluntary undertaking and agreement with the Member).

f. Requiring the Member to take specified continuing education or remediation.

g. Taking no action if the Panel considers a complaint to be frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or otherwise an abuse of the process or if there is insufficient evidence.

It is important to note that the ICRC is a screening committee and does not make findings of guilt or impose penalties. Neither the ICRC, nor the CRTO, has the authority to award costs or damages to patients/clients.


Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

In some cases the Registrar may, with the consent of both parties (the Member and complainant) refer the matter for alternate dispute resolution. This can only occur if the allegations have not been referred to the Discipline Committee and the matter does not involve allegations of sexual abuse. ADR is an alternative to the complaints investigation process and allows the complainant and the Member to work together through a facilitator to create solutions that satisfy everybody involved. The ADR process is confidential. For more information see the ADR Fact Sheet.

What does referring allegations to the Discipline Committee mean?

The Discipline Committee holds hearings concerning allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence. A discipline hearing is like a trial. The CRTO acts as a prosecutor; the Member is usually represented by their own lawyer. As the complainant you could be called as a witness to testify.

What does referring the Member to a Panel of the ICRC for incapacity proceedings mean?

Concerns regarding Members’ fitness to practice (capacity) are referred to a seperate panel of the ICRC which will investigate allegations that a Member’s physical or mental condition may be affecting his or her ability to practice Respiratory Therapy. The results of the health inquiry, including the results of any physical or mental specialists’ examinations, will be considered by the Panel. Based on these reports the Panel may refer the matter to a Fitness to Practice hearing.

How will I know the decision?

Once the ICRC has made its decision, we will inform you and the Respiratory Therapist in writing.

Will the decision be published or revealed to the public (other than the complainant)?

Certain decisions are made public and can be found on the public register. The types of decisions that are made public include; oral cautions, remediation, undertakings, and criminal/other charges or findings of guilt, and bail conditions.

What happens if I am not satisfied with the decision of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)?

If you are not satisfied with the ICRC’s decision, you may take your case to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) for review. This Board is an independent public board appointed by the Ontario Government. It reviews decisions made by the CRTO and may:

• agree with the CRTO’s decision, or

• direct the ICRC to re-examine the case, or

• direct the ICRC to take specified action, such as referring the Respiratory Therapist to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing.

For information about reporting obligations see Reporting Obligations by Employers and Reporting Obligations by Members.

For information regarding Funding for Therapy & Counselling please see the fact sheet.


Who do I contact for more information?

If you would like to discuss your concern with a staff person at the CRTO please contact:
Peter Laframboise, Manager of Professional Conduct

(416) 591-7800  ext. 37
1-800-261-0528  ext. 37