Every year, a number of unregistered practitioners posing as physicians make headlines and cause public outrage and uproar.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) takes such actions seriously and actively polices such individuals to ensure that public safety is protected.

Unregistered Practitioners

An “unregistered practitioner” refers to:

  1. a person who has been practising medicine without a certificate of registration authorizing the person to do so and without being properly delegated to do so by an Ontario-registered doctor; and/or
  2. a person who has been holding him/herself out as a physician in contravention of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991or the Medicine Act, 1991.

Since 2014, the CPSO has taken action against five individuals who have all posed as doctors, offering services including: psychotherapy, psychiatry, and cosmetic injections. All these individuals purported to offer health-care services, often telling patients that they were physicians, or referring to themselves as “doctor”, while not being registered, or without being properly delegated to provide certain services by a registered doctor.

The CPSO maintains a list, publicly available online, where all such individuals are identified. Other information includes details of their infraction, any past discipline against the individual by any other College, actions taken against them, as well as any limits on how they present themselves to the public or about the services they offer.

Actions Taken Against Unregistered Physicians

The CPSO has the power to take a number of steps against unregistered practitioners, including:

  • commencing legal proceedings against non-members, including seeking orders and injunctions;
  • launching provincial-offences prosecutions against non-members;
  • involving the police where there are public safety concerns.

Past court orders that the CPSO has sought have included:

  • orders directing individuals who are not licensed to practice medicine to refrain from performing all “controlled acts” (this includes things like performing diagnostic tests, communicating to a patient about a diagnosis, performing certain procedures, administering some substances);
  • orders directing individuals from using the the title “doctor” or “physician” (or any abbreviation of that title), or purporting to be a specialist in the course of providing or offering to provide health care;
  • a contempt order where an individual who had previously been ordered to refrain from performing controlled acts continued to do so. In that case, the CPSO asked the court to impose a fine, a term of imprisonment, and to order that the individual post signs in her clinic and run ads in the local newspaper notifying the public of the terms of the original order prohibiting her actions.

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