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Patient Compass

In this issue: November 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.

A Snapshot of the CPSO in 2017

2017 was a busy year for the College. While investigating complaints and holding discipline hearings are the most high profile College responsibilities, the College runs many programs that help to ensure you and your families can have confidence in the quality of care you receive from your doctors.

Two recent reports highlight the CPSO’s activities in 2017. Registering Success examines our key responsibility to licence qualified physicians, setting out the number of licences we issued in 2017 and trends over time. It also reports on our success in increasing the number of physicians actively practising in the province and how we’ve reduced barriers to licensure for international medical graduates.

Our Annual Report takes a broad look at our accomplishments in 2017. Inside you’ll find interesting facts and trends in all program areas such investigations and discipline, physician assessments, registration and more. And, if you’re looking for a quick reference guide, this clickable infographic offers an easy to navigate summary.

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Can You be Over-Tested?

It’s a common scenario: after consulting Dr. Google, a patient arrives in a doctor’s office and insists on receiving certain tests; or a doctor, out of an abundance of caution, chooses to order multiple tests to rule out all possibilities. It can often take less time to order a test than for a physician to explain why doing nothing is sometimes the best option, and some patients might feel that if they didn’t get a prescription or test, they weren’t taken care of.

Research is increasingly telling us that over-testing, including many routine tests ordered during annual physicals, may in fact be be doing more harm than good. And, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, every year Canadians undergo more than one million medical tests and treatments they may not need.

But what do we mean by over-testing? And isn’t more always better? Not necessarily, says Dr. Wendy Levinson, the Chair of Choosing Wisely Canada. Unnecessary tests and treatments don’t add value to care, she says. Instead they can detract from care by potentially exposing patients to harm.

Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is a national campaign to help physicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. Many provincial medical associations have endorsed CWC and they’ve developed lists of commonly-used tests and treatments that aren’t actually supported by evidence and could expose patients to harm due to physical risks, potential for false positives and the stress of groundless concerns when waiting for results.

Much of Choosing Wisely’s work has been about educating physicians; however, patients can also play a role in reducing unnecessary testing. CWC encourages patients and doctors to talk openly about the pros and cons of various tests, as most diagnoses and advice result from patient examinations and discussions about history, environment and symptoms.

As part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, the College of Family Physicians of Canada developed a patient video called Do More Screening Tests Lead to Better Health? That is a frank look of the pros and cons of common and often overused tests like mammography, thyroid testing, chest x-ray and ECG, and Pap smears.

CWC also suggests that patients ask their doctors four important questions before agreeing to recommended tests and treatments:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. What are the downsides?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I do nothing?

You can visit Choosing Wisely’s website for more patient resources about this important subject.

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Have Your Say: Open Consultations

Continuity of Care Consultation still open
There is still time to comment on our draft Continuity of Care policies. This important consultation examines a set of new CPSO policies developed to help reduce and minimize breakdowns in care. December 9th is the deadline to submit your feedback.

The College regularly conducts public consultations to obtain feedback from the public and physicians on new and revised policies, as well as existing policies that are under review. You can keep up with all current consultations, submit your comments and review all the feedback received by visiting our consultations page.

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Patient Notebook

Trust your doctor not to judge you
Embarrassment is often a barrier to proper health care. Think of how difficult it can be to talk about delicate issues like overactive bladders, sexual health and practices, hemorrhoids, addiction and mental health issues, or body parts that might be oozing, itching or bleeding. Most of the time, it’s not the condition itself that causes the discomfort, but the thought of discussing it.

Even so, it’s in your best interests to put that notion right out of your head. Your doctor isn’t there to judge you, but to use his or her professional judgement and knowledge to help you. Doctors have the education and experience to deal with any situation imaginable, and won’t make you feel ashamed or self-conscious, so don’t censor yourself.

If you need a bit of courage to find the right words to describe your concerns, here are some strategies to help:

  • Research the issue, not necessarily to deal with it, but to realize how many others have faced it and you’re not alone.
  • Practice what you want to say. Hearing the words can help ease your anxiety.
  • Share your feelings. Tell your doctor you’re nervous. They’ll know to speak with you in a sensitive way.
  • Use your own words. If the clinical words make you uncomfortable, find another way to share the same information.

Your doctor is trained to respond with respect and professionalism. Part of the job is to put you at ease, no matter what you’re talking about. And when you find the words to provide the full picture, your doctor can make the best assessment possible and help ensure you get the care you need.

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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.

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, 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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