February Messenger 2019

Melissa Campbell CPSA, Messenger


Keeping patient safety at the forefront

Bill 21 to take effect on April 1

Further to the Government of Alberta’s passing of Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients in November 2018, the remaining provisions of Bill 21 are slated to occur as planned on April 1, 2019.

Once the bill fully takes effect, any healthcare professional found guilty of sexual abuse towards a patient will face permanent license revocation, while those proven guilty of sexual misconduct towards a patient face mandatory suspension. In addition, self-reporting and reporting by registered members of other physicians who are in violation of Bill 21 will be mandatory. Visit the Alberta Health website for full definitions of what constitutes sexual abuse and misconduct.

Throughout January 2019, the Ministry of Health conducted consultations on each standard of practice (SoP) drafted by the 29 regulated health professions in Alberta. Each College was asked to provide feedback on each other’s draft standards, a process that the CPSA participated in.

In mid-February, the CPSA will be told by the Ministry of Health whether our draft SoP is approved as is, or if updates and resubmission must be made prior to Feb. 28. The Ministry of Health will distribute all the approved standards of practice to the Colleges by late March, after which we will share ours with Council before implementation.

The final version of our new SoP will be sent to the profession via email by the end of March, with new advice to the profession and patient FAQ documents to support the standard currently in development.

As an additional resource for physicians, the CPSA has partnered with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to host a virtual town hall meeting about Bill 21. The date and time of the town hall will be shared soon and a recorded copy of the meeting will be made available afterwards for those who are not AHS physicians.

Members can learn more about Bill 21 here. You can also refer to our FAQ document here. If you have any questions, please contact CPSA Standards of Practice Coordinator, Chantelle Dick, at chantelle.dick@cpsa.ab.ca


MD Snapshot-Practice Checkup feedback is in!

Summary of survey responses

Thank you for taking time to review your 2018 MD Snapshot-Practice Checkup report and fill out our survey. We received over 1,200 responses, including feedback by phone and email.

  • The majority of respondents received (88%) and reviewed (98%) their report.
  • Two-thirds (63%) found the report useful for self-reflecting on their practice.
  • Participants overwhelmingly agreed the purpose (89%) and concepts (91%) introduced in the report were clear.
  • Over one-third of respondents (39%) indicated the Cambridge model1 did indeed align with their understanding of performance, while half (51%) remained uncertain.

Our research and evaluation team is currently reviewing all of the written feedback and will consider your ideas and opinions before reviewing and updating the next iteration of the report.

Questions or comments? Email cc.inquiries@cpsa.ab.ca.

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1Rethans J, Norcini, J., Baron-Maldonado, M., Blackmore, D., Folly, B., Lew, S., and Sourthgate, L. The Relationship Between Competence and Performance: Implications for Assessing Practice Performance. Medical Education. 2002;36:901-9.


Coming soon to your mail or inbox: MD Snapshot-Prescribing

Expect your latest prescribing report in late February or early March

MD Snapshot-Prescribing is a tool for self-reflection, with the dual purpose of increasing your prescribing awareness and supporting you in optimizing care for your patients.

We are moving towards an interactive online environment for delivering this information. By late February or early March, most physicians in Alberta who prescribed an opioid in Q4 2018 will receive an email with access information to our online portal, where you will be able to print and download various profile views and see trend data.

Please note: a small subset of physicians who prescribed an opioid in Q4 2018 will be randomly assigned to receive either a paper copy of MD Snapshot-Prescribing, or nothing at all. This will allow us to systematically evaluate various aspects of the MD Snapshot-Prescribing, including the best delivery method.

Questions? Email cc.inquiries@cpsa.ab.ca.


The CPSA visited Red Deer this month—this is what we heard

As part of the CPSA’s 2019 Regional Tour across Alberta, CPSA President, Dr. John Bradley; Registrar, Dr. Scott McLeod and senior staff stopped in Red Deer on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, to hear directly from physicians, community leaders and elected officials about the health care challenges their community and surrounding municipalities are experiencing.

Attendees were engaged and keen to discuss current topics affecting health care in their region. The conversation at all three sessions largely focused on regional bed shortages, the disproportionate patient-to-physician ratio and gaps in transitions in care.

Questions arose about Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients ("Bill 21"), which received Royal Assent on Nov. 19, 2018, and goes into effect April 1, 2019.

Bill 21 sets out several changes to the Health Professions Act, including amendments regarding the discipline of inappropriate sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by regulated health professionals.

The majority of questions focused on Bill 21’s definitions of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, the physician-patient relationship and episodic care.

Dr. McLeod advised CPSA registrants to read all information the CPSA has distributed on Bill 21 and to contact him or other members of the Executive with questions.

Want to have a discussion about health care in your region? Let us know if you would like Regional Tour to visit your community.

Contact Marian Stuffco, Government Relations Advisor
780-969-4989 or 1-800-561-3899 ext. 4989
marian.stuffco@cpsa.ab.ca


Discipline report

Physician permanently suspended from medical practice

Dr. Vincenzo Visconti, a family physician from Sherwood Park, can no longer practice medicine after his licence with the College was permanently cancelled.

Background

In 2011, College Council ordered Dr. Visconti to undergo regular peer reviews as a result of a number of findings of unbecoming conduct under the Medical Profession Act. In October of 2017, a Senior Medical Advisor from the College reported that the latest review of Dr. Visconti’s practice revealed concerns with his opioid prescribing (at amounts that were drastically higher than other physicians and showed a trend of increasing over time instead of decreasing, as recommended by chronic pain guidelines).

The College also investigated complaints received against Dr. Visconti in 2015, in which he directed patients to only use a specific pharmacy to fill prescriptions. An investigation into issues with Dr. Visconti’s billing practices was also conducted at this time.

As a result of the investigations into these ongoing concerns, Dr. Visconti’s license was suspended indefinitely in April of 2018 under Section 65 of the Health Professions Act, which grants regulators the ability to suspend a physician’s practice permit in the interest of public safety.

Rather than proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing, Dr. Visconti agreed to a formal resolution of the complaints in December 2018.

Terms of resolution

The terms of resolution, signed by both Dr. Visconti and the College’s Complaints Director, includes the following conditions:

  1. Visconti must return his practice permit to the College and unconditionally request the cancellation of his registration, effective immediately.
  2. Visconti is responsible for the costs of the investigations into his practice, totaling $21,641.09.
  3. Visconti may not apply for reinstatement with the College, or for registration in any other jurisdiction, with any other professional regulatory authority governing the practice of medicine.
  4. In response to any inquiry by a professional regulatory authority or on a Certificate of Standing, the College can disclose that Dr. Visconti has retired from medical practice by requesting the cancellation of his permit in Alberta. The College will further disclose the concerns surrounding Dr. Visconti, inclusive of circumstances involving him and the College.
  5. The College can publish (to the public and to the profession) the terms of resolution and the summary of the findings from the investigations into Dr. Visconti’s practice.

Commentary

The College does not discourage the prescribing of opioids when it is clinically appropriate, but we do expect good follow-up and overall care from physicians for patients receiving this treatment. When issues arise, the College wants to work with physicians whenever possible to address concerns and help them improve their practice. However, if all attempts at remediation are unsuccessful, the College will do what is necessary to ensure we’re meeting our mandate to protect the public. Permanent revocation of a practice permit/license is used only as a last resort, when the College believes that a physician’s practice represents a continuing risk to patients.