Effective 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, the Ontario government ordered the closure of “non-essential” workplaces. The list of “essential” workplaces included “health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists”.
The College of Chiropractors of Ontario (“CCO”) interprets this list as including chiropractors, and we agree.
So the question becomes – what is “emergency care”?
The CCO’s website has helpful information and ongoing updates as to the CCO’s interpretation of what constitutes “emergency care”. We expect that, within reason, the province would defer to the CCO in interpreting “emergency care” as it relates to chiropractic practice.
Currently, the CCO has defined “emergency care” as including the following:
The CCO also notes generally that the member needs to weigh the value of treatment against the risk when deciding to treat a patient.
In terms of risk assessment, you need to consider the risks of treatment not only to the patient and yourself, but also to other patients, staff and - at this time of collective physical distancing - the public at large.
Before deciding to treat, in addition to determining whether the proposed treatment constitutes “emergency care”, perform active screening of the patient for COVID-19 risk factors in advance and over the phone before scheduling the in-person treatment sessions. Do not treat if you yourself have travelled in the previous 14 days, have symptoms of COVID-19, or have come into contact with individuals who have been diagnosed with or deemed to be a presumptive case of COVID-19.
If you do decide to treat, manage your risk by doing the following:
NOTE: This blog was written on March 25, 2020, and was current as of that date. A blog post is never a substitute for legal advice specific to your situation, and that is particularly so when circumstances are changing so rapidly.Wise Health Law is deemed by the province to be an “essential” service. While we are working remotely, we are diligently monitoring email and voicemail, and remain available to assist our clients.
Earlier this year, Wise Health Law succeeded on a motion for summary judgment in a dental malpractice case on the basis that the limitation period had expired before the Statement of Claim was issued. The (unreported) decision was delivered orally on the day of the motion.
In part, the plaintiff argued that she did not discover her claim until the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (the “RCDSO” or “College”) rendered its decision, as she did not know if the defendant was negligent when she complained to the RCDSO, but merely had a “suspicion”.
In the midst of COVID-19, the proceedings of many health colleges, and consequently of the health professionals they regulate, have been in limbo while everyone finds a way forward.
On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government enacted the Hearings in Tribunal Proceedings (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 (the “Act”) to help the process along.
The Act empowers statutory tribunals with more discretion over how proceedings before them are held.