What is Published on the Ontario College of Pharmacist’s Public Register?

We often assist pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who have questions regarding the Ontario College of Pharmacist’s (“OCP”) public register. Upon receiving a complaint to the OCP, pharmacists should be aware that the process has the potential to result in the publication of a notation that is critical of their professional care. In this article, we will summarize some of the most relevant information regarding the public register. 

What is the public register?

Under the governing legislation, the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (“RHPA”) and the Health Professions Procedural Code (“HPPC”), the OCP is required to maintain a record of information pertaining to each registered pharmacist and pharmacy technician. This record is known as the register. In accordance with the HPPC and the OCP’s Transparency Principles, which aim to protect and inform the public, the register is available online. 

The public register contains the pharmacist’s practice details, including their name, practice address, date of registration, class of registration, and certain details relating to any legal proceedings against the pharmacist. 

Transparency in regulatory proceedings

In recent years, there has been a shift towards greater transparency at the OCP. This has resulted in the inclusion of more information on the public register. Pharmacists who are subject to complaints, discipline, or capacity investigations at the OCP should be aware that the process might now result in more than just the direct professional consequences associated with a negative regulatory finding. 

Certain information regarding practice and conduct concerns will be available to the public, and will generally remain on the register. Accordingly, pharmacists should take complaints seriously. They may find it prudent to retain legal counsel to assist with responding to complaints and other regulatory matters at the OCP.

What kind of legal information is published on the public register?

Following the conclusion of an investigation, the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (“ICRC”) can dispose of a complaint against a pharmacist in a number of ways. The public register will include notations of the following ICRC dispositions:

  • Cautions against a pharmacist;
  • Orders that a pharmacist complete a specified continuing education or remediation program (“SCERP”);
  • Orders subjecting a pharmacist to a period of practice monitoring; and
  • Referrals to discipline or incapacity hearings.

The public register will also include notations summarizing the allegations, outcome, and penalty of discipline proceedings. Any terms, conditions, or limitations imposed on a pharmacist, and any undertakings signed by a pharmacist, will be included on the public register. The public register will also identify the status of a pharmacist’s certificate of registration, including whether they have been suspended, revoked, or have resigned.

In addition to regulatory details, the public register will include notations of any findings of professional negligence or malpractice, as well as criminal convictions and outstanding criminal charges against a pharmacist. Under the HPPC, pharmacists are required to report certain specific details of any criminal proceedings against them to the OCP.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are subject to any kind of legal proceedings may face public exposure through the public register. They should consider seeking legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.