The Role of the Expert/Peer Opinion Provider

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Introduction

The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario in fulfilling its mandate to investigate complaints and/or allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence concerning a physiotherapist, may require an independent peer opinion or expert opinion.

The opinion may be sought during the course of an investigation to help the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) determine whether or not a breach of the Standards has occurred.  In other cases, an opinion may be sought to assist the ICRC in determining whether or not to refer the matter to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.  In both cases, a written report outlining the expert's opinion is required.  An expert may be required to provide testimony if the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.

Role of the Expert Witness

Individuals acting as expert witnesses have a different role than do fact witnesses. Fact witnesses describe their encounter with an individual, such as what they observed, what was said etc. They are not allowed to speculate or offer their opinion regarding the incident.

Expert witnesses on the other hand have not previously been involved with the physiotherapist or the case. They are provided with information regarding the case and asked to give their opinion about whether or not the physiotherapist's conduct or actions met the Standards of practice of the profession. Where cases are referred to the Discipline Committee, the Committee is not permitted to rely on its own expertise, but rather can only rely on evidence that is placed before it.  Hence, the College may ask that the expert present his/her opinion, as a statement of the profession's standards relating to the matter.

Experts are asked to assume that the facts placed before them are true. They are not required to determine the accuracy of the facts presented to them.

To access additional information regarding expert and peer opinions, contact the Associate, Professional Conduct at investigations@collegept.org or call 416-591-3828 ext. 227 or 1-800-583-5885 ext. 227.