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Patient Compass

In this issue: May 2019

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.

Strategic Planning Feedback: What we heard from you

A few months ago we asked you to take part in an online survey to help shape the CPSO’s strategic direction. Many Patient Compass readers completed the survey and others participated in focus groups. And now, we are pleased to share the results of the survey and the face-to-face interactions we had with you, other members of the public, CPSO staff, physicians and our healthcare partners.

What we heard was honest and genuine feedback about your experiences and opinions about the CPSO, our role and where we should really focus our efforts. Thank you for taking the time to inform our planning process. The feedback we received was essential to our strategic plan development and we believe we will be better regulators as a result. Please stay tuned for our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, which we will share on our website in the near future.

Also, if you are interested in future opportunities to engage with the CPSO, please contact

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Can your doctor dismiss you from a family practice?

When Simon woke up one day with a sore throat, he decided to visit a nearby walk-in clinic. Several weeks later, when seeing his family doctor for a regularly scheduled visit, Simon was taken aback when she asked him not to visit walk-in clinics in future and, if he continued to do so, she may have to consider dropping him from her practice. Simon called the CPSO to ask if his doctor’s request was appropriate.

The short answer is ‘yes’, depending upon the circumstances. In Simon’s case, his family doctor is part of a Family Health Team in which physicians agree to provide enhanced access to care for a ‘roster’ of patients, including after-hours and weekend care.

Being part of a rostered practice such as a family health team has many benefits for patients, including a strengthened relationship between you and your doctor and better continuity of care. But it is very important, when signing a rostering agreement, that you and your doctor discuss and ensure understanding of your obligations and the care and access your doctor will provide under the agreement.

Of course, you have the right to seek medical care from walk-in clinics and other facilities that suit your needs. The CPSO has encouraged physicians not to de-roster or terminate a patient after a single instance of visiting a walk-in clinic, without first exploring the issue with a patient. Ideally, your doctor should ask questions to understand why you felt the need to seek outside care and, if there are issues, work with you to address them. The conversation may end with you both concluding that your lifestyle is no longer a good fit for a rostered practice or you may come to a mutual understanding about how best to seek care from your family doctor during regular and after-hours. The relationship begins with consensus and if it needs to end, it should preferably be a mutual decision as well.

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Not all complementary treatments are created equal

In 2019 it is not unusual for patients to look beyond traditional medicine to less conventional therapies for improved wellness or relief from chronic conditions. Thanks to an increasing amount of research on complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) treatments, health care providers are now better able to understand the role complementary therapies can play in helping treat or prevent disease. Today, physicians are more likely than ever before to suggest evidence-based complementary treatments along with conventional treatments. And that’s a good thing for patient choice.

But while CAM offers more treatment options for patients, not all CAM treatments have been studied well enough for us to know if they are safe or effective. In fact, the CPSO has been called upon to intervene in situations where a physician is providing treatments that are not supported by evidence and may actually be harmful.

Before deciding to try a CAM treatment, patients should research the treatment’s potential benefits and risks. If your CAM practitioner is a physician, he or she should be sharing this information with you as part of the normal practice of informed consent. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you gather information from a variety of sources and check the credentials of CAM practitioners. They also suggest talking to your family doctor before trying any CAM treatments offered by other practitioners – especially if you already take medications or have chronic health problems – to be sure it won’t be harmful to you or cause unanticipated problems.

The CPSO’s Complementary/Alternative Medicine policy explains physicians’ obligations when offering CAM treatments to patients. The key principles of the policy are to respect patient choice and ensure the provision of safe and effective CAM treatments.

We are currently reviewing the policy as part of our regular review cycle to see where it can be improved or updated in keeping with current knowledge and practice. If you are interested in lending your voice to shape this policy, please email us and share your comments. 

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New CPSO website

In April, we launched our new and improved CPSO website. We’ve simplified our content, streamlined headings, improved our search function, and much more. We hope you will be particularly pleased with the dedicated “public” section of the website, where you can more easily “Find a Doctor” on the public register, and other information relevant to you and your family. All in all, the new website is meant to create a better user experience for patients, doctors and our health-care partners. Check out all the changes at

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We want to talk to you!

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

If you belong to a patient 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.

Contact us to discuss having a CPSO representative 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 © 2019 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, All rights reserved.

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