CPSA clarifies rules re: treating patients displaced by Northern Alberta fires

Morgan Hrynyk CPSA, Latest News Archive

We have received numerous questions about the College’s expectations of physicians during this emergency situation. In normal circumstances, the CPSA Standards of Practice are the minimum standards expected of physicians.

Given the extraordinary challenges presented by the current emergency, it may not be possible for physicians to comply with CPSA standards related to Patient Record Content, Patient Record Retention and Continuity of Care due to severe infrastructure disruptions and the displacement of thousands of Albertans, possibly for an extended period of time.

In such situations, physicians must be guided by the Code of Ethics, especially:

  1. Consider first the well-being of the patient;
  2. Take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to patients, should harm occur, disclose it to the patient;
  3. Provide whatever assistance you can to any person with an urgent need for medical care.

During an emergency, physicians should not be reluctant to provide care where it may be extremely difficult to keep records or track results.

In all situations, physician should provide the necessary care, and document and follow-up that care to the best of their ability given the challenges presented and available resources. Whether or not follow-up is needed depends on what transpires from each patient encounter or visit, and what alternate availability exists.

When the College is faced with a situation where a standard of practice has not been met, mitigating circumstances are always considered. In an emergency situation, if a physician can demonstrate he/she took all reasonable actions, failure to meet the standard is not considered unprofessional conduct.

The College will provide additional advice and guidance as this emergency situation evolves and eventually transitions into a recovery and rebuilding phase.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the College at 1-800-561-3899 or info@cpsa.ab.ca