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Patient Compass

In this issue: April 2018

Our quarterly magazine contains important updates on policies, topics of interest, as well as a summary of recent disciplinary findings.
Read the latest issue here.



Ensuring Safe Prescribing and Investigating Concerns

The CPSO recently released the results of our investigations into several physicians with potentially concerning opioid prescribing practices. When the investigations were launched in November 2016, many patients on opioid therapy feared physicians would stop prescribing opioids. We told patients and physicians that understanding and questioning prescribing practices is not intended to discourage appropriate opioid prescribing, and we stressed that it was our expectation that physicians who were the subject of an investigation would not suddenly cease prescribing to patients currently on opioid therapy as such an act would not be good medical care.

Our goal has always been to keep physicians in practice and to support education and continued prescribing under supervision. Eighty-one of the 84 investigations are now complete and the investigation outcomes demonstrate that wherever possible, we have chosen to support physician education: we took no action in 22 cases, provided advice to six and prescribed self-study for two. Forty-four physicians with identified learning needs will participate in education and practise under the guidance of a supervisor, while three physicians now have prescribing restrictions and another three are no longer practising. Only one physician was referred for a discipline hearing.

It’s important to remember that we have not asked physicians to stop prescribing opioids, but to prescribe responsibly and to stay in line with best practices. We have also told physicians that it is never appropriate to abandon a patient on long-term opioid therapy or to abruptly cut off or threaten to cut off a patient’s medication.

For patients on opioid therapy, safely reducing long-term opioid medication, where clinically indicated, requires a thoughtful plan of care that is discussed between you and your doctor. If you have concerns about reducing your opioid medication, speak with your doctor, or contact the College’s Public Advisory Service at 1-800-268-7096 ext. 603.

You can also read our Message to Patients Living with Chronic Non-Cancer Pain and our FAQ for Patients which will give you and your family some useful guidance and advice regarding opioid therapy.

Know the Signs of Opioid Overdose: Get the overdose wallet card

What would you do if a friend or family member was in crisis due to an opioid overdose? Health Canada’s opioid overdose wallet card contains quick and useful information on how to spot an opioid overdose and what to do if you suspect an overdose. To help encourage people to call for help during an overdose, the card also includes information on the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, legislation that protects people who seek emergency help during an overdose situation from charges related to simple drug possession. You can order wallet cards and find other useful resources on the Government of Canada’s Opioid Toolkit webpage.

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Patient Notebook and Resources


Do You Know Your Health Care Rights?

When you visit a doctor you can count on safety, competency and ethics. Think of it like a set of rights that are upheld by the CPSO and entitles you to certain standards when meeting with your doctor. Here are nine ‘rights’ you should always expect:

  1. You have a choice: your doctor should explain treatment options and respect your decisions. You also have the freedom to seek other health services or second opinions.
  2. You’re in charge of your health: your doctor must have your informed consent before implementing any treatment. That means explaining the treatment, its benefits, risks and alternatives. And it’s up to you to agree to or to refuse what happens next.
  3. Get clarity: You should be able to ask your doctor anything about your health and get answers in plain language.
  4. Your information should stay confidential and private: It should be shared with other health professionals only for the purposes of providing care to you.
  5. Ethical lines shouldn’t be crossed: You doctor has a duty to put your needs and interests first. It’s up to physicians to maintain professional boundaries with patients and avoid anything that could cloud their judgment.
  6. Be open and honest: Many of your health issues are sensitive. You should be able to reveal anything, from sexual health and practices to mental health issues, without being judged.
  7. Get quality care from qualified practitioners: Ontario physicians have an obligation to meet high standards, and stay current with skills and knowledge throughout their careers.
  8. Learn more about your doctor: the CPSO’s online public register helps you learn more about your doctor, including qualifications, specialty, and any restrictions on their practice or disciplinary decisions against them.
  9. Raise concerns about your care or treatment: We take patient complaints very seriously. If you have any concerns about the care or conduct of your physician, we will investigate and, when appropriate, impose appropriate sanctions.

You can read more about your rights and your doctor’s responsibilities when treating you in our brochure, What to Expect During Medical Encounters.

How the CPSO Website Can Help You Take Charge of Your Health Care

We want to make sure your doctor takes care of you in an ethical, professional and safe manner. Our website has many resources to help you and your family understand your rights and your physician’s obligations to you. Visit our website to:

  • Look up your doctor’s name on the CPSO’s Public Register to find out information about them, such as what medical school they went to, and what area of medicine they have specialized in.
  • Look up the responsibilities doctors have to you on the Policies & Publications webpage.
  • Find out how to make a complaint against a physician if you are concerned about your doctor’s conduct or competence.
  • Find more information about sexual abuse and the support available to patients by looking at the Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Abuse webpage or by calling us at 1-800-268-7096 ext. 629.

You can also call our Public Advisory Service when you have questions about your health care. We are here to help you get the best care for you and your family. Call us at 1-800-268-7096 ext. 603.

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Current Policy Consultations: Have Your Say


Closing a Medical Practice

We regularly conduct public consultations to obtain feedback from the public and physicians on new and revised policies, as well as existing policies that are under review. The feedback we receive helps us to assess policies and determine the issues we should consider throughout the review process.

We are currently seeking input on the draft policy, Closing a Medical Practice. The policy sets out the steps physicians must take to ensure patients are appropriately notified when they plan to permanently close their office and what the physician should do to assist patients in arranging care with another health care provider.

Please take a moment to review the dedicated consultation page and share your comments.

You can keep up with all current consultations, submit your comments and review all the feedback received by visiting our consultations page or by joining our mailing list to receive notifications of all future consultations.

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We want to talk to you!


Invite us to your next community meeting

Do you have questions about the College and the work we do to protect the public and regulate physicians? Consider inviting a College speaker to your next meeting.

If you belong to a community group or organization that is interested in having a presentation from the College, we would like to hear from you.

Our speakers bring a wealth of knowledge on a range of issues concerning medical regulation and health care. We will deliver an interesting session on our policies and resources to help you make informed health care choices, as well as understand the College’s role in ensuring Ontario has quality medical professionals and a health care system we can all trust and rely on.

Some of the topics we have covered recently at community meetings include:

  • Who Regulates Your Doctor? (A general overview of the CPSO)
  • Planning for and Providing Quality End of Life Care
  • Doctors Accepting New Patients into their Practice

Contact us to discuss having a member of our team speak at your next event or meeting. 

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We want to hear from you!

The College relies on feedback from the public, as well as the profession, to formulate policy. Please take a few moments to comment on our open consultations.
View our active consultations.
Learn more about the College’s consultation process here.
Join our mailing list and receive notification of all future policy consultations.

For general inquiries or to make a complaint, contact our Public Advisory Service:
Toll Free: 1-800-268-7096 Ext. 603
Copyright © 2018 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, All rights reserved.

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