The Relationship between PLP and the RCDSO

Dentists occasionally express confusion about the relationship between PLP and the RCDSO. In short, PLP is a program of the RCDSO, but its mission and function are distinct from the rest of the College’s. The following describes the mandates of PLP and the RCDSO, as well as the policies and procedures that exist to prevent information about a PLP matter being disclosed to the regulator, and vice versa.

Mandates of RCDSO and PLP

The RCDSO is responsible for regulating Ontario dentists. According to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, the RCDSO mandate is to “serve and protect the public interest.” In other words, the RCDSO does not exist for the benefit of Ontario dentists, but rather for the patients and the public they serve.

Since March 2014, all Ontario health profession regulators are required to ensure their members have professional liability protection to respond to claims for compensation by patients injured as a result of clinical negligence. More than 40 years before it was ordered to do so, the RCDSO created PLP to provide this service.

As the malpractice protection provider for Ontario dentists, PLP owes a duty of good faith to the RCDSO members. While one of PLP’s main objectives is to maintain the integrity of the dental profession in Ontario, as a program of the RCDSO, it also shares the College’s public protection mandate. PLP balances these obligations by defending dentists who have done nothing wrong, even if it would be less expensive to settle a claim, and providing reasonable compensation to patients with meritorious claims for injuries caused by dental negligence.

Maintaining separation and confidentiality

PLP staff have a legal, professional and ethical duty to keep information received from dentists in the strictest confidence. PLP staff take this obligation seriously. Dentists’ communications with PLP are not transmitted to other parts of the RCDSO.

Since dentists are required to immediately report incidents to PLP that might reasonably be expected to give rise to a patient claim, i.e. a demand for money or services, it is important you are not deterred from contacting PLP because of fears that the information will come to the attention of the regulator. The following protocols are in place to alleviate any such concerns:

  • Although PLP is part of the RCDSO and its staff work in the same building as other RCDSO employees, PLP’s space is enclosed and access is restricted.
  • PLP staff are strictly prohibited from viewing files from other RCDSO departments.
  • Other RCDSO departments cannot access PLP’s electronic records and information. Similarly, PLP staff have no computer access to non-PLP records and information.
  • PLP and other RCDSO staff may not discuss cases from their respective departments on penalty of immediate termination for cause.
  • PLP has its own telephone number, fax number, email domain and website.

Ontario dentists are fortunate that the RCDSO’s governing body in the 1970s had the foresight to establish PLP, which has since grown into a robust and sophisticated vehicle for meeting its members’ malpractice protection and risk management needs and providing protection to the public.

Dentists should not hesitate to contact PLP to report an incident or to obtain general dental-legal advice. You can do so in full confidence, knowing that any information conveyed to PLP will remain confidential.