Might be the worst thing too—you are accountable for all elements of your professional life.
When things go right you should feel great—you helped a patient through a tricky problem, you contributed your time to a charity event, you had a successful business year. Well done!
But you are also responsible for anything to do with your practice when things don’t go so well, for example, if your practice number is used for fake billing or if a support person to whom you assigned patient care progresses a patient too fast. The Ontario Divisional Court recently had something to say about this. They were considering an appeal by two doctors from a decision made by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
The advertising regulation at that College is similar to our Standard. The doctors argued that the company they worked for published testimonials and other advertising in which their names and faces appeared without their knowledge. The Judges found that even if the doctors did not know about these advertisements, they knew their employer had created inappropriate ads in the past and they failed to show that they had taken reasonable steps to remove improper advertising bearing their names. The doctors were held responsible.
If this sounds familiar, you might remember a decision by our own Discipline Committee a few months ago, when two physiotherapists were held responsible for billing personal training as physiotherapy, even though this appeared to result from business decisions made by their employer. How far does your responsibility go?
Besides being accountable for yourself, you also have to watch out for your colleagues. If you see someone you believe cannot safely provide care due to a health problem, you are required to report it to their College. Likewise, you have to report if you have reason to believe that a health professional sexually abused a patient. And if you are the facility operator (say a clinic owner) then you must report incapacity due to health problems, suspected sexual abuse and incompetence.
It’s not enough to be a great clinician. You are a custodian for the profession. This is the burden that comes with being a professional—you are accountable.
Luckily, we know you are up to it. The vast majority of you are outstanding professionals. Each year, we receive substantiated complaints and reports about fewer than half a percentage of the profession, and our peer visits to your practices result in practice enhancement only three per cent of the time.
So keep up the good work, and remember to always expect the same from your colleagues.
P.S. No matter what I blog about, many people comment about the need to regulate clinics. We heard you! The CPO is working hard on this project with 8 other Ontario Colleges. We are at the research stage. Regulating clinics would require a change in the law but we are hoping to make a proposal to the government in the winter this year. Stay tuned!