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Medical Matters: Streamlining the complaints process

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January Messenger 2024, Medical Matters | Posted January 18, 2024
Read time: 2 minutes

A look at the work CPSA’s Professional Conduct team has put into a new complaints management system

By: Dr. Gordon Giddings, Assistant Registrar, Professional Conduct and CPSA Complaints Director

Patient complaints can provide valuable information about a physician’s competency and the quality of care they provide. They can also contribute to a health system’s overall performance, leading to increased patient engagement with health services, improved accountability of healthcare providers and overall compliance with standards. As such, effective patient complaint management is an important component of effective professional self-regulation.

Improving our process

Interventions to improve the management of complaints promote behaviour changes in both patients (to enable them to complain when appropriate) and providers (to enable them to effectively respond to complaints).1 As its primary business function, CPSA’s Professional Conduct team manages issues brought forward by Albertans, our partners and other healthcare providers regarding physician performance and conduct.

In an effort to improve the experience of complainants and regulated members in our complaints process, we are pleased to introduce a new centralized case management software called Case IQ. This tool will allow the submission of complaints through a user-friendly form, accommodating both a digital and current paper-based complaints process. If submitted digitally, complainants can log into an easy-to-use online system to track the progress of their complaints in real time.

This change is aimed at streamlining our processes and enhancing efficiency by improving collection of complaints, ensuring an adequate and timely response to each complaint, and promoting transparent and effective communication to complainants and regulated members throughout the process.

What does this mean for you?

Regulated members need to be aware of the new system. If you are the subject of a complaint, you will receive emails from Professional Conduct through the Case IQ platform. We will continue to use the CPSA Portal to upload letters and documents for physicians who receive a complaint. The external-facing complaints form is still being finalized and will be available from our website soon.

We continue to innovate and refine our processes by looking at emerging evidence in regulation, with the understanding that a well-designed online complaints management system is likely to increase the number of complaints in the short term2, leading to improved service quality and a reduction in complaint numbers over time. We expect Case IQ to help ensure timely communication and avoid complex response processes where possible. We consider this an opportunity to continue improving the experience of complainants and physicians, as well as an opportunity to make the complaints process more accessible and efficient for everyone.

A headshot photo of a man taken from the shoulders up. He is wearing a black shirt and glasses. Dr. Gordon Giddings first joined CPSA as a Senior Medical Advisor in 2016 and became Assistant Registrar, Accreditation in 2020. He transitioned into the role of CPSA’s Complaints Director and Assistant Registrar, Professional Conduct in 2023. He is certified in both Palliative Medicine and Sleep Medicine. He is also the current Vice President of the Medical Council of Canada.


Walker AE, Grimshaw J, Johnston M, et al. PRIME – Process modelling in Implementation research: selecting a theoretical basis for interventions to change clinical practice [journal article]. BMC Health Serv Res. 2003;3:1–12.

Levin CM, Hopkins J. Creating a patient complaint capture and resolution process to incorporate best practices for patient-centered representation. Jt Comm Journal Quality Patient safety/Joint Comm Resour. 2014. November;40:484–492.

4 Responses

  1. Joan Horton says:

    I’m hopeful that the changes will streamline the process and help our patients see what is happening with their complaints in real time. In my experience, having had a relatively minor complaint require 22 months for resolution, the long delay added to the patient’s frustration. If a consensual resolution could have been reached much earlier, both my patient and I might have felt that the process was effective. In the end, neither of us were satisfied as my patient declined the delayed consensual resolution and my wish to answer their questions and help them understand what happened was denied.

    • Dr. Gordon Giddings says:

      Hello Dr. Horton, thank you for reading The Messenger and sharing your feedback. We understand the complaints process can be challenging for physicians and patients alike, and are hopeful the changes we are implementing will in the future help us avoid the concerns you’ve shared. Thank you again for reading.

  2. Ify McKerlie says:

    Dear Dr. Giddings,

    Does this apply to complaints that are already in? I filed a complaint and am waiting for an investigator to be present. The information above indicated that, “If submitted digitally, complainants can log into an easy-to-use online system to track the progress of their complaints in real time.” Does that apply to complaints that have already been submitted?

    Much like Dr. Horton, long delays completely add to patient frustration. Adding to the long delay is the lack of information provided. People generally fare better when a timeline or expectation is set, thus if one is told, it would take a year or two or a few months, that’s better than saying don’t call, we’ll call you and no timeline given. When a matter of a sexual nature is at stake, there is a mental and emotional toll that adversely impacts the patient.

    I look forward to your response as I emailed and was told I would get a response in 3 business days and that did not occur.

    • Dr. Gordon Giddings says:

      Hello Dr. McKerlie , thank you for reading and sharing your feedback. No, any complaints submitted prior to the launch of CaseIQ will not transition to the new complaints management program. We have responded to your email, if you have any other questions about your complaint, please feel welcome to reach out to our Support team at for assistance.