Regulating health care professionals

Region: Ontario Answer # 694

Distinguishing between kinds of health care practitioners

There are many different kinds of practitioners who provide health related services. Some types of health professionals are regulated by law and some are not. If a patient suffers because of improper treatment, it may be easier to hold a regulated health professional accountable.

Regulated health professionals

If a health professional is regulated by the Regulated Health Professions Act, it means they are required by law to fulfill certain training criteria to receive a license to practice. It also means they belong to a professional organization, called a College, which is responsible for setting standards for the profession. The College is also responsible for taking complaints and disciplining members of the profession who do not live up to professional standards. Regulated health professionals include: doctors, nurses, chiropractors, physiotherapists, midwives, optometrists, psychotherapists and dentists.

Other health care practitioners

If the professional is not regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, there may be other laws that regulate some aspects of the profession, such as education and training requirements. However, practitioners who are not regulated, may not be accountable to a professional body, and therefore, may be able to set their own standards. Unless the situation is serious enough to pursue criminal charges, if a patient has a problem with the treatment provided by an unregulated practitioner, there may not be a governing body where the patient can make a complaint or prevent the person from practising. Unregulated practitioners may be sued in civil court. However, since they may not have insurance, even if a patient sues them, the patient may not be able to recover any money.

Before accepting health treatment, you should ask whether the practitioner is regulated by law, and whether they belong to a professional organization.

Pharmacists can offer prescriptions for 19 common ailments

Under the provincial Pharmacy Act, 1991 pharmacists can prescribe treatment options for 19 of the most common minor medical conditions. There will be no charge for the service.

Pharmacists can offer prescriptions for the following:

  • Acne
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Aphthous Ulcers (canker sores)
  • Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
  • Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic and viral)
  • Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
  • Diaper dermatitis
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Herpes labialis (cold sores)
  • Impetigo
  • Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
  • Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
  • Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
  • Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
  • Pinworms and threadworms
  • Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infection)

According to the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP), the body responsible for governing the profession of pharmacy in Ontario, minor ailments are health conditions that can be managed with minimal treatment:

  • A short-term condition
  • Lab results aren’t usually required
  • Low risk of treatment masking underlying conditions
  • No medication or medical history red flags that could suggest a more serious condition
  • Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

For more information, refer to the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP).

For additional information on regulated health professionals and unregulated practitioners, you can contact the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care or visit its website at health.gov.on.ca.




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