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Patient Compass

In this issue: February 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.

Choosing Antibiotics Wisely

Winter’s cold and flu season is upon us, which means many Ontarians will be visiting their family doctor or local walk-in clinic looking for ways to relieve symptoms and get back on their feet. While the tried-and-true approaches — including drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest — still work as well as they always have, some patients will insist that their doctors prescribe them something stronger to kick the cold. Often, this means antibiotics.

But the reality is, antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections. In fact, using these drugs when they’re not clinically necessary may cause harm. As part of our ongoing relationship with Choosing Wisely Canada, the CPSO has been providing tips to physicians who may be getting pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics when they are not appropriate. This is part of a national campaign to help both doctors and patients engage in a conversation about unnecessary antibiotic use.

Here is a list of illnesses that we tell doctors not to prescribe antibiotics for:

  • Upper respiratory infection (the common cold): Doctors shouldn’t prescribe antibiotics for this unless there is clear evidence of a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Influenza-like illness: Again, antibiotics are not appropriate to treat this unless there is clear evidence of a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Bronchitis/asthma: Doctors should not prescribe antibiotics to treat either of these ailments.

As always, if you have any questions about our prescribing policies for Ontario doctors, give us a call at 1-800-268-7096, ext. 603 or email

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Patient Notebook

Who should fill out my third-party report, my family doctor or my specialist?

It’s not unusual for patients to require their doctor to fill out some kind of third-party report — such as an application for insurance benefits, or documents related to a workplace issue or legal proceedings — at some point in their lives. If this happens to you, you may hit a common roadblock, where your family doctor says it’s the treating specialist’s responsibility to complete the report, and the specialist says it’s your family doctor’s responsibility. So who is right?

As with many things in health regulation, the answer is: it depends.

If this happens to you, we would direct you to our Third Party Reports policy, which all Ontario physicians are required to follow, but here are a few tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Any physician who has had a treating relationship with you has an obligation to complete a third-party report once the request has been made and you’ve provided your consent.
  •  If you make the request to your family physician, then they have an obligation to provide any relevant information contained in your medical record that is available to them.
  • If a specialist receives the request, they have the same obligation to provide information contained in your medical record.
  • If the third party is requesting information outside of your family doctor’s scope of practice, or information they do not have access to, your family physician might be limited in what information they can provide. In this case, the information might need to come from your specialist. Your doctors have an obligation to advise you about the limitations of the information and/or opinion they can provide.
  • The doctor generally has 60 days to complete the report, unless legislation states otherwise.
  • Doctors may require prepayment for the report as long as the report is not related to basic income and health benefits, and you are responsible for making the payment.

As a starting point, you may want to send the request to the doctor whom you feel would have the required information and include a copy of the CPSO’s policy to remind them of their obligations. If a conflict arises, we suggest you request the two physicians have a conversation to determine the best way to proceed and the physician best positioned to provide the required information.

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Thank You for Completing Our Survey

Back in November, we published a special edition of Patient Compass calling on all of you to take part in an online survey to help shape the CPSO’s strategic direction for the future. We’re happy to report that hundreds of you filled out the survey, and many of you expressed interest in participating in focus groups to further inform our work. Those focus groups are now complete.

Your feedback has been vital to our strategic planning. It will help inform our priorities to serve the public interest and keep us focused on issues that matter to patients and families, while at the same time keeping us a balanced and effective regulator. So thank you for taking the time and sharing your opinions.

We’ll be consolidating all the feedback from the survey, the focus groups and our other stakeholder activities and look forward to sharing our final strategic plan.

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Have You Checked Out the Ontario Health Regulators Website Recently?

As you may have read back in our July 2017 issue, Ontario Health Regulators launched a new website as a one-stop gateway for you to learn all about the various health regulators here in Ontario. The site provides you with access to the registers of all 26 colleges. It can help you find health professionals and see important information about their registration and discipline history.

Now, OHR has added some new online features:

  • They have a YouTube channel offering videos about OHR and the website in multiple languages, including Urdu, Tamil and Arabic.
  • They have a Facebook page, which you can follow to get the latest updates from OHR and news from the health colleges around the province.

They have a new public consultation page on the website itself, indicating which colleges are currently holding consultations on policies and other initiatives that impact your health care.

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And Speaking of Websites …

The CPSO’s Communication and Media team is hard at work developing a brand-new website at This new website will have a number of enhancements over our current site, including:

  • An overall experience designed for the user;
  • Simplified and easy-to-use navigations;
  • More concise, engaging writing;
  • An improved Find a Doctor search function; and
  • A dedicated section for patients/the general public.

The new website will launch in early April!

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We Want to Talk to You!

Do you have questions about the CPSO, 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 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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