January Messenger 2019

Melissa Campbell CPSA, Messenger


Ensuring patients are protected

An update on how the College will implement Bill 21

On Nov. 19, 2018 the provincial government passed Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients, which impacts all 29 of the regulated health professions in Alberta. As of April 1, 2019, any health care 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. There’s now also mandatory self-reporting and reporting by registered members of other physician’s discretions in violation of Bill 21. Visit the Alberta Health website for full definitions of what constitutes sexual abuse and misconduct.

In response to this legislation, the College created a new standard of practice to define the patient relationship, due to the Minister of Health by Dec. 31, 2018. A condensed standard of practice consultation was completed from Dec. 10 - 16, 2018 and we received nearly 200 submissions of feedback from CPSA registered members. The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Medical Association were also consulted in the development of this standard of practice.

Highlights from the consultation results include:

  • 85% of respondents found the definitions of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct clear.
  • 77% had no concerns with how patient is defined.
  • 87% agreed the minimum period of time a regulated member must wait before considering a sexual relationship with a former patient (one year) is clear.
  • 81% understood when it is acceptable to provide treatment to a spouse/intimate partner.
  • 73% felt the draft standard clearly distinguished what are minimum expectations and what is guidance.
  • 83% agreed the draft does a good job of informing regulated members about their legal and professional obligations regarding sexual abuse and misconduct.
  • 73% saw no issues with implementing the draft.

Your feedback was incorporated into the standard of practice that was shared with the Minister of Health. Once approved by the Minister, the standard will be formalized by College Council, for implementation by April 1. We will also work to develop advice documents (for the profession and the public) that support the standard.

Also as a result of Bill 21, as of December 2018 all new applications for CPSA practice permits (from students, residents or for individual practice) must now include a criminal record check from each jurisdiction where the applicant has practised medicine. Additionally, the information available on the CPSA website is changing to provide more transparency around registered members who are proven guilty of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. We will also create a patient relations program and a fund to provide treatment and counselling for patients who are victims of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by a registered member.

Find out more about Bill 21 here.

If you have any questions, please contact CPSA Standards of Practice Coordinator Chantelle Dick at chantelle.dick@cpsa.ab.ca.


New two-part TPP Alberta form coming this spring

This spring, Alberta’s prescription monitoring program (TPP Alberta) is moving from a three-part form to a secure, two-part form. A survey to front-line practitioners confirmed support for this change, which will streamline processes and save the program significant operational costs.

Once the new two-part forms are in circulation, physicians will only provide patients with the top copy of the TPP prescription to take to their pharmacy. Most TPP-required data is received from the Pharmaceutical Information Network, therefore pharmacies only have to send copies to TPP Alberta for TPP prescriptions for compounds, from veterinarians, for office use and from Yukon prescribers. Watch your inbox and future issues of The Messenger for more information.

Questions?
Email TPPinfo@cpsa.ab.ca, or call 1-800-561-3899, extension 4939.


Giving patients the tools to take a more active role in their health care

MyHealth Records to launch in 2019

Soon, Albertans will be able to access their health records online.

In a joint initiative between Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services (AHS), the MyHealth Records portal will launch in early 2019. This patient-centered platform will allow Albertans to take a more active role in their health care by providing secure access to:

  • a list of medications dispensed from a community pharmacy over the last 18 months,
  • all available immunization records, and
  • results from certain common lab tests.

Patients will also be able to upload data directly from devices like blood pressure monitors and Fitbits to their health records, to provide a more detailed representation of their health.

Encouraging patients to advocate for themselves and their care

MyHealth Records is designed to be easy for patients to understand and navigate. Having access to their information will give Albertans the tools they need to be proactive in their own health, allowing them to have more informed and focused conversations with their care providers.

If patients experience difficulties with MyHealth Records, telephone assistance will be available by calling 811. Public health nurses will also be on hand to answer questions about test results.

A few things to keep in mind about MyHealth Records:

  • Records for patients aged 18 or under will not be accessible at first. The intent is to make these records available at a later date.
  • This platform is not the same as MyChart, a tool that provides access to records for services received in AHS facilities. These two systems will eventually be integrated.
  • Only results for frequently-ordered lab tests will be posted online. For specialized or sensitive results, patients will still have to follow up with their care provider.

More information on a confirmed launch date and how patients can sign up for MyHealth Records will be available soon.

Questions? Refer to the letter distributed to physicians in December, visit the MyHealth Records website or call Health Link at 811.


What do my annual fees pay for?

By now, all Alberta physicians who intend to practise medicine in 2019 should have renewed their CPSA practice permit, both by completing their 2019 Renewal Information Form, and paying membership and any professional corporation (PC) fees. Your 2019 membership fee remained at $1,960. Fees collected by the College go toward CPSA operations, programs and services.

Here’s a breakdown of what your annual fees will pay for in 2019:

Questions? Email CPSA Operations Director Tracy Simons, at tracy.simons@cpsa.ab.ca.


Hearing Tribunal decision

Edmonton physician sanctioned for threatening behaviour

Dr. Viliam Makis, a nuclear physician from Edmonton, was found guilty of unprofessional conduct and sanctioned by a College Hearing Tribunal.

Background

It was alleged that in April 2017, Dr. Makis confronted a former colleague who had previously provided the College with information about his conduct (as part of a separate complaints investigation). Dr. Makis accused his former colleague of lying about him and suggested there would be negative consequences for doing so.

While the confrontation was not physically aggressive, Dr. Makis’ former colleague found the exchange threatening and inappropriate. The incident was reported to the College, where the Associate Complaints Director initiated a complaint.

Dr. Makis denied the allegations. The Hearing Tribunal reviewed all of the evidence and felt the former colleague’s version of events was credible. Dr. Makis was found guilty as his conduct was considered contrary to the Canadian Medical Association’s Code of Ethics.

Order of the Hearing Tribunal

As a result of the finding of unprofessional conduct, the Hearing Tribunal ordered the following sanctions:

  1. Dr. Makis received a reprimand.
  2. Within 40 days of the decision, Dr. Makis must arrange for an assessment of his fitness to practise medicine, and provide the College’s Registrar with evidence of the scheduled assessment and the assessment’s results.
  3. If Dr. Makis fails to arrange for the assessment within the required time, the Registrar will make the arrangements. Once the Registrar receives the results of the assessment, he will determine what (if any) follow-up action is required.
  4. If Dr. Makis fails to arrange for the assessment, fails to undergo the assessment, does not provide the Registrar with the assessment’s results or fails to comply with any required follow-up, his practice permit will be suspended.
  5. If Dr. Makis is found fit to practise medicine without conditions, his practice permit (if suspended) will be restored and he will be responsible for the full costs of the investigation and hearing (totaling $74,453). If the assessment reveals concerns about Dr. Makis’ fitness to practise, his permit will reflect any required conditions and he will be responsible for 50 per cent of the investigation and hearing costs.

Dr. Makis has appealed the Tribunal’s decision to College Council. A date for the appeal hearing has not yet been set.

Commentary

Each physician practising in Alberta has a responsibility to uphold the privilege of profession-led regulation by conducting themselves professionally and treating colleagues with respect. Furthermore, anyone should be able to come forward with concerns about a physician’s practice or behaviour without fear of retaliation. Intimidation of witnesses by physicians is never appropriate and poses a threat to the College’s ability to regulate the medical profession and ensure that patients are receiving safe and appropriate care.