The Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO) is committed to ensuring that Albertans receive safe, skilled and competent care from their optometrist. Although complaints against optometrists are extremely rare, it is the responsibility of the ACO to address all complaints against Alberta optometrists. Complaints usually fall into three main categories:
1. Disputes Involving a Consumer or Administrative Issue
- Examples of this type of dispute may include: dissatisfaction with glasses purchased from an optometrist, dissatisfaction with contact lens purchased from an optometrist, waiting too long in the reception area before a scheduled appointment, etc.
- For these types of disputes, we encourage patients to speak directly with their optometrist in an effort to try to resolve the dispute / concern. In most cases, once the optometrist is made aware of your concern, he/she may be able to offer several resolution options that would be acceptable to both the patient and the optometrist.
- If this approach is not successful, we request that you contact the ACO office to authorize one of the specially trained ACO mediators to intervene as an intermediary and attempt to resolve the dispute on an informal basis.
- If your dispute cannot be satisfactorily resolved through either of the above two steps, we encourage you to submit a written, signed letter of complaint to the ACO Complaints Director to initiate a more formal process.
Please be advised that under the Health Professions Act (HPA), the ACO has limited jurisdiction in commercial and/or monetary matters (those concerning refunds, exchanges, etc.). As such, depending on the circumstances, patients may have to look for other remedies beyond what the ACO can provide.
2. Complaints of a General Nature:
- Examples of this type of complaint may include: an incorrect or missed diagnosis, inappropriate billing, fraud, etc.
- In these types of complaints, patients are required to submit a written, signed complaint to the ACO Complaints Director in order to start the formal complaint process.
- Once the written, signed complaint is received at the ACO office, the ACO Complaints Director will verify that we have jurisdiction in the matter and will proceed as per the protocols outlined in the Health Professions Act. Some of the options available to the Complaints Director include:
- To encourage the complainant and the optometrist to communicate with each other to resolve the complaint between themselves.
- To refer the matter to an Alternative Complaint Resolution process for resolution (with the consent of the complainant and the optometrist).
- To conduct an investigation into the matter.
- To dismiss the complaint if the complaint is ruled trivial or vexatious.
- To dismiss the complaint if there is no evidence or insufficient evidence of unprofessional conduct.
3. Complaints of a Sexual Nature:
- If your complaint involves sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or activities of a sexual nature, we request that you contact the ACO office immediately to speak with one of our highly trained staff on appropriate next steps. Following this confidential telephone call, you will still be required to submit a written, signed complaint to the ACO office.
- Click here to access resources specifically related to complaints involving sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or activities of a sexual nature. In accordance with the Health Professions Act (HPA), before the ACO may take any action, all complaints must be written, signed and submitted to the ACO Complaints Director at the ACO office. While the ACO attempts to work as quickly as possible, the time frame to complete the complaint process varies greatly and is dependent on a number of factors, including: the complexity of the issues involved, the number of and availability of individuals involved and the volume of materials to be reviewed.