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Solving an Issue with your Dentist

Complaint Resolution Q+A

The Alberta Dental Association and College provides a fair process to resolve a complaint about a dentist. The complaints process is designed to open the lines of communication between a dentist and patient to help find solutions. We encourage you to contact your dentist first to try to address and resolve your complaint.

The Alberta Dental Association and College is governed by the Health Professions Act (Alberta). You may find a copy of the Health Professions Act on the Alberta Queen’s Printer website at www.qp.alberta.ca.

When should a complaint be made?

We encourage you to make every effort to resolve your concern directly with the dentist involved before making a complaint to the ADA+C. Do not delay treatment because you are waiting for the outcome of a complaint.
If you do make a complaint to the ADA+C about the conduct of a dentist or a quality of care concern, your complaint must:

a. be in writing
b. be signed by you
c. provide the name of the dentist you are complaining about
d. include enough detail about the nature of your complaint so the dentist is able to respond to it.
e. list your contact information including your mailing address and phone number
f. be sent by fax or mail.
Email complaints are not accepted at this time.

What the ADA+C does not do.

The ADA+C will not accept complaints about your third party provider (insurer), employment complaints, office procedures and office staff, and complaints about a person who has not been a member of the ADA+C for two years or more.

The Alberta Dental Association and College does not:
- Provide legal services to patients or dentists
- Act as a patient advocate or an advocate for complainants
- Represent third party providers or insurers
- Fund dental treatment
- Provide copies of dental records we have on our files because you must request this information directly from the dental office

Where do I make a complaint?

Your written complaint may be sent to:
The Alberta Dental Association and College
Attention: Complaints Director
Suite 101, 8230 – 105 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5H9
OR
By Facsimile to: 1-780-433-4864

How does the complaint process work?

When a complaint is received by the Complaints Director, she may:
- Attempt to resolve your complaint between you and your dentist
- Encourage you and your dentist to resolve the complaint directly
- Commence an investigation into your complaint
- Dismiss your complaint
Each complaint will be assessed on an individual basis. Within 30 days after your complaint is received at the offices of the ADA+C, you will be notified of the initial action taken. The dentist will be notified about your complaint and will receive a copy of it.

What happens if a complaint is investigated?

You will be notified in writing that an investigation has started and will be given the name of the investigator. The investigator will request relevant information from people involved with your complaint. The dentist complained about will be provided with a copy of your complaint and will be asked to provide a response to your complaint in writing and a copy of your clinical record and dental health information.

Other people you have noted in your complaint or who are identified in the investigation may also be asked for information about your complaint including a copy of your clinical record and dental health information. You will be notified in writing of the results of the investigation when it is completed.

Will I receive financial compensation?

No. The process deals with dentists’ conduct and treatment. If you are making a complaint because you believe you are entitled to financial compensation or any compensation for pain and suffering, you may need to seek legal advice.

How long does an investigation take?

It depends on the nature of a complaint. A complaint investigation may take six to eight months. Complicated complaints can take considerably longer.

Is the complaint process confidential?

Yes it is. In the complaint process, the people who may have access to your complaint is you, the Complaints Director, any dentist you name in the complaint or who is identified during an investigation, and another person who may have information relating to your complaint.

What are the possible outcomes of the complaint process?

a. Your complaint will be resolved.
b. Your complaint may be dismissed if the evidence does not indicate that further action should be taken.
c. The most serious complaints may be referred to a formal hearing and you may be asked to be a witness at the Hearing.

Will my personal information be protected in a hearing?

One possible outcome of making a complaint is that the dentist you have been complained about will be referred to a Hearing. The purpose of the Hearing will be to determine if the dentist is guilty of unprofessional conduct. A panel of three dentists and a member of the public will hear the entire complaint and all of the evidence presented at the Hearing to determine if the dentist is or is not guilty of unprofessional conduct. The four person panel is called a Hearing Tribunal.

As part of a Hearing, a complainant may be asked to be a witness at the Hearing for the Alberta Dental Association and College. All witnesses are required to attend the hearing and tell their story under oath, which is a promise that all statements are true and accurate. All witnesses will be required to swear certain facts about who they are and why they made a complaint. A witness may also be subject to cross-examination by the dentist’s lawyer.

At the end of a Hearing, the Hearing Tribunal will prepare a written decision. If a dentist is found guilty of unprofessional conduct by a Hearing Tribunal, a summary of the Hearing Tribunal’s decision, including the dentist’s name, will be published. This publication is required by Bylaw 19(7) of the Bylaws of the Alberta Dental Association and College. The decision of the Hearing Tribunal may reference your name. If you would prefer your name not be referenced in the decision, please let us know. In the publication of a summary of a decision, your name will be reduced to initials or a number to protect your personal information.

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