Raising the Bar of Accountability: College Council Votes for Greater Transparency, Stronger Patient Protection
Jun 01, 2015
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) took significant steps at its May Council meeting to improve transparency of information available to the public and to better protect victims of physician sexual abuse.
Council approved new by-laws to post a range of additional information on the CPSO’s public register of doctors. The new information includes criminal charges, cautions-in-person, specified continuing education or remediation program orders (SCERPs), discipline findings in other jurisdictions, and licences in other jurisdictions. This latest move is the result of the CPSO’s transparency initiative begun in 2012. The College’s public register already includes extensive information about physicians in Ontario including discipline referrals and outcomes.
Council also approved a series of steps to protect patients from sexual abuse and ensure their voices are being heard within the College’s investigations and discipline processes. These initiatives include recommending amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act so that:
all physical sexual contact between a physician and a patient results in mandatory revocation of a physician’s certificate of registration;
mandatory revocation is expanded to circumstances where physicians are found to have engaged in other specified acts of professional misconduct – such as being convicted of a criminal sexual offence or engaging in sexual impropriety with a patient under the age of 16;
patients are given a guaranteed right to communicate the impact of abuse on them by submitting victim impact statements to the Discipline Committee following a greater range of professional misconduct findings;
there is increased protection for the privacy interest of victims involved in discipline cases by raising the legal threshold for the production and disclosure of confidential records of a patient not in the possession of the College;
the voices of patients are heard in more cases, by guaranteeing their right to make submissions to the Discipline Committee prior to any order resulting in the disclosure of that person’s confidential records not in the possession of the College; and
requiring all regulated health colleges to file periodic reports with the Minister of Health on sexual abuse.
“Our foremost responsibility when dealing with sexual abuse by physicians is to protect victims, and the important decisions Council has made will bolster our ability to do so,” said CPSO president Dr. Carol Leet.
“We also believe in empowering patients with easily understandable information about physicians to help them make informed choices. This important principle has guided our decisions about greater transparency.”
The CPSO is also developing a policy that will set out the types of situations in which sharing information with the police may be appropriate, as well as analyzing the appropriateness and use of gender-based restrictions on doctors who have committed sexual abuse. Council will consider both issues at its September meeting.
For more information on the College’s transparency initiative, visit our Transparency of Physician-Specific Information page.
For more information on the College’s sexual abuse initiative, visit our Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Abuse page.
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