Family members and patients who deal with doctors often have concerns about the care they received. Such issues are occasionally dealt with directly by the parties, sometimes through a hospital ombudsman, but most often by a direct written complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The CPSO receives the most complaints of any health care Regulator in Canada. When that happens, the physicians involved necessarily seek legal advice and representation. The cost of such counsel is paid for by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA). This, in turn, is funded by the Ontario taxpayer and the doctors themselves through their insurance payments. Given the dismissal rate of over 80%, the process, while valuable and necessary, was costing the public far more than expected. The Honourable Stephen Goudge was asked to review it and provide recommendations on changes and improvements.
The complaint process is an administrative one run by the CPSO and governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA). It is a part of every College’s self-regulating responsibilities to ensure that the public is protected and provided with competent doctors. The process usually ends after an investigation by the CPSO. The complaint process operates independently of any lawsuit. Although the CPSO awards no compensation or damages for injuries, it can and does make findings which can lead to discipline, remedial training and other appropriate remedies.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care commissioned the report from Justice Goudge in 2016. The purpose of the referral was to have him review the process and improve its efficiency and overall cost. The average number of complaints received by the CPSO in recent years is just over 2,400 annually. Justice Goudge noted that more than 80% of public complaints are dismissed after an investigation or conclude with summary advice only. The average time to completion was around 200 days with the statutory limit for completion being 150 days.
None of the recommendations have been implemented to date despite support for them from at least the CMPA. A primary goal of the recommendations was the creation of a triage system with the ability to dismiss more complaints at an earlier stage. This would seem like a benefit to all sides of the issue. What, if anything, will become of the report is unknown but we will continue to follow any developments. Next week, we will look at Justice Goudge's recommendations with respect to civil actions for medical malpractice.
At Wise Health Law, we rely on our significant experience with the complaint process for all health care professionals, our experience before discipline panels of various regulatory Colleges and Review Boards to provide our clients with exceptional guidance and representation through the often-overwhelming discipline process. To find out more about how we can help, contact us online, or at 416-915-4234for a consultation.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario has issued an updated Directive #2 (dated May 26, 2020) for Regulated Health Professionals in the province.
Pursuant to the updated Directive #2, all deferred non-essential and elective services by health care providers may be gradually restarted – subject to the rest of the requirements set out in the Directive.
The updated Directive #2 does not provide particularly detailed guidance to health professionals on how to proceed, likely because it applies to such a broad spectrum of health care and health professionals. It does, however, provide some principles to assist health care providers in making decisions as we enter this transitional period.
In addition to the mask and hand sanitizer shortages, Ontario’s response to COVID-19 highlights the need for more frontline health care workers. Each regulated health profession’s college responded differently, and we have discussed some of those changes in other posts to keep you apprised.
Today, we focus on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), who set out to increase the number of available and licenced physicians out on the frontlines through certificates of registration that authorize supervised practice of short duration. The temporary licences authorize practice for 30 days.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has affected how health professionals practice. Pharmacists across the country are not only experiencing changes in how they practice (for example, accepting emailed prescriptions, where appropriate) but the scope of their practice as well. The latter change is not permanent, although the disruptions in practice may be felt long after the COVID-19 emergency subsides.
On March 19, 2020, Health Canada issued a short-term section 56(1) exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) that would authorize pharmacists to prescribe, sell, or provide controlled substances in limited circumstances, or transfer prescriptions for controlled substances (the CDSA Exemption).