How much information about their health care providers should patients and other members of the public be able to see? Where’s the line between the public’s right to know and the professional’s right to privacy?
All of the health care professions in Ontario have Public Registers on their websites. These Registers all have some information about health care providers. For example, you can find out where your doctor went to university or whether your dentist has been disciplined by the College. But should these Registers go farther?
As a member of the public, should you be able to see exactly why your optometrist was referred to a Discipline hearing? Should you have the ability to find out whether the Ontario College of Pharmacists’ Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee ordered your pharmacist to take training courses or work under supervision? Should you be able to look up whether there are criminal charges outstanding against your mom’s favourite nurse?
You may have read in the news recently that the Minister of Health told all the Colleges to make transparency a priority. It is Dr. Eric Hoskins’ opinion that we need to ensure that as much information as possible is shared with the public. View the Minister’s letter and the College’s reply to it.
As it turns out, our College has been considering these important issues in partnership with the professions mentioned above for more than a year. All of these Colleges have been taking steps to make more information about our members available to the public. In September 2013, our Council approved Transparency Principles and at its last meeting, Council tentatively approved changes to the by-laws that will add information to the Find a Physiotherapist feature of the website such as criminal findings, bail conditions, the status of hearings for PTs referred to the College’s Discipline Committee and whether physiotherapists use support personnel.
We are asking for your input about these changes, please provide your thoughts. Once Council has received your feedback, they will make a final decision about whether to publish these pieces of information on the Public Register.
But that is only phase one. The second phase of the transparency project will consider what other types of information should be made public – in particular, criminal charges and Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee decisions. You’ll be asked for your opinion again about those things in the new year.
If these changes are approved at all the Colleges, you’ll see more information about health care professionals which may help you choose between practitioners. On the other hand, if you are a physiotherapist, it also means that the public may soon have additional information about you.
This is important.
Tell your friends to check it out and have your say. In the world post WikiLeaks, are there barriers to the amount of information that should be available about health professionals? Where is the line between the public’s right to know and the professional’s right to privacy?