Unlawful Practice

Make sure your health professional is regulated, licensed and accountable

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC regulates the practice of medicine in the province, with the duty to serve and protect the public. The practice of medicine is a designated health profession under the Health Professions Act (HPA). Only College registrants are authorized to practise medicine and use reserved professional titles. The public is exposed to risk of harm by receiving “medical” services or treatments from an unregulated individual.

The College’s responsibility includes acting on information that an unlicensed individual may be:

  • performing medical procedures, such as minor surgical procedures or invasive cosmetic procedures, which may fall within the definition of the “practice of medicine,” including:
    • the removal of moles
    • the injection of Botox and other dermal fillers
    • the injection of a local anesthetic or other substance dispensed by pharmacies
  • using reserved titles such as “doctor,” “physician,” “surgeon,” "osteopath," or "osteopathic surgeon"
  • offering medical advice

The risks of not seeing a regulated health professional include:

  • exposure to unsterilized or inadequately sterilized instruments, which may carry blood borne disease resulting in infections
  • destruction of skin tissue which would ordinarily be sent to a laboratory for analysis of possible disease requiring medical treatment
  • a false sense of security of good health because an unqualified person gave such an assurance and missing the opportunity to obtain medical treatment
  • incorrect or incomplete advice about what treatments a patient may or may not require

What the College may do

If the College is made aware of unlawful practice, it will review the information provided and conduct an investigation. If the facts show that someone is practising medicine without being licensed or authorized, the College will take steps to ensure that the person ceases that activity. This includes obtaining an undertaking from the person to cease the unauthorized activity immediately.

If the unregulated individual does not cease the unauthorized activity, the College may obtain an injunction to ensure the activity does not continue. The College may also report the matter to the police for further action.

What you can do

If you have concerns that an individual who isn’t a College registrant is practising medicine, you may contact the College by phone, mail or email.

You may choose to provide this information anonymously.

Note: Some medical procedures may be performed by other health-care professionals who are regulated by other colleges under the Health Professions Act, such as dentists, naturopathic physicians, podiatrists and registered nurses. To find out more about what these health professionals are authorized to do, or to obtain contact information for the regulatory organization that governs these professions, visit the Useful Links section on our website.

If there is doubt about whether an individual is regulated, patients should feel free to ask the health professional if s/he is licensed and registered under the HPA. Patients may also want to contact the health professional’s regulatory authority to inquire about the proposed treatment or procedure, and determine whether it is appropriate for that health professional to perform the treatment or procedure.

For more general information about BC’s health professionals, visit www.bchealthregulators.ca.