Complaints and Discipline 

Anyone can file a complaint against a physician. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) handles these complaints.

Physicians are expected to follow high professional and ethical standards. Patients or their families, other physicians, or a third party can file a complaint against a physician physician when there are suspected breaches of these standards. The investigation is done confidentially. However, the law requires CPSNS to publish decisions if findings are made impacting the physician's licence.

As a result of the investigation, CPSNS may dismiss the complaint (with or without advice), offer advice only, caution, or informally resolve the complaint.  As part of the investigation they may, order an assessment of competence or capacity.  A formal hearing for matters referred to discipline can result in a reprimand, suspension or revocation of license.  A hearing panel could also order remediation, ongoing restrictions and repayment of some costs associated with the investigation.


Complaints can be of various types. They can relate to professional conduct, for example, incompetent care. One important aspect for IMGs is diversity and inclusiveness. Some of the common complaints are:

  • Failure in Diagnosis
  • Providing Low-Grade Treatment
  • Incompetence in Providing Care
  • Sexual misconduct

Physicians have the right to consult with the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) when they face a complaint. CMPA provides legal advice to physicians. Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) offers guidance and moral support during investigations.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS)

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (CPSNS) receives and investigates complaints. If necessary, CPSNS takes disciplinary action.

Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS)

Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) offers guidance and moral support through the Physician Navigator Program.

CPSNS does not order a physician to pay a patient. However, CPSNS may impose fines and legal costs. Patients or their families can get lawyers to file for malpractice or negligence in a civil court.

  • Volunteer Services Act

    The Volunteer Services Act protects a volunteer from liability when providing emergency services. However, you cannot provide a service beyond your scope of license. For example, you can perform CPR on a person who collapses on the street. However, you cannot perform an emergency appendectomy if you are not licensed to do so.