This Messenger has several articles related to complaints and complaint outcomes. For that reason, I felt it was a good opportunity to talk about the role the College has in complaints and why it’s a necessary requirement for the profession.
When talking to practising physicians, it sounds as though the CPSA is perceived to spend most of its time on complaints and disciplinary actions. I hear often that a physician’s greatest fear is getting a letter from the College marked private and confidential. I would love to say we want to get out of the business of investigating complaints, but that is just not realistic. We are however, looking at better ways of carrying out this responsibility.
We know the vast majority of physicians are doing excellent work every day looking after Albertans. For those who do get complaints, rarely are those complaints of such an egregious nature that we need to refer the matter to a disciplinary hearing. In 2017, only six of the 826 complaints received were referred to a hearing.
As you know physicians have a unique position in society which is dependent on the trust we have earned as a profession. Part of building and maintaining that trust is through self-regulation. That means we as a profession have a responsibility to investigate complaints and take action when required. We take every complaint seriously and we do our very best to ensure both the physician and the complainant feel they are listened to, supported and treated fairly and honestly throughout the process.
We also recognize that providing health care in a health care system means you can rarely point the finger at one person or one event when there is a concern. We see complaints as opportunities to learn and improve as a profession and a health care system. You can see from the 2017 Complaint Statistics (in this issue of Messenger) that most complaints are related to quality of care and practice management. That is a key reason why the CPSA is developing a more robust Continuing Competence Department, so we can focus on supporting physicians to improve their practice before complaints occur. This will ultimately improve care and protect the public.
The CPSA takes the role of self-regulation very seriously and we know we have a mandate to protect the public, but we also believe this can be done in more ways than simply focusing on discipline. Supporting physicians to improve their practice is an important first step.
I look forward to your comments,