The College often hears concerns from both sides of the referral-consultation process. We hear from referring physicians that consulting physicians can be difficult to access or can refuse to see certain conditions within their scope. We hear from consulting physicians that referring physicians can provide insufficient detail or clarity, or don’t complete proper examinations of their patients before requesting the consultation. Frustration is apparent on both sides, and patient care ultimately suffers.
This was tragically brought to public attention in 2013, when the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) released its Continuity of Care study following the death of 31-year-old Greg Price. In its recommendations, the HQCA asked the College to review its standards of practice with the goal of improving coordination and provision of services.
“If sharing one good idea could save one patient’s life, let’s get serious about this and share as many as we can.”Dr. Michael Caffaro, CPSA Assistant Registrar & Complaints Director
CPSA Council responded by approving important amendments to the Continuity of Care standard in June 2015 and, at its September 2016 meeting, the Referral Consultation standard.
The Referral Consultation amendment – to take effect January 1, 2017 – requires physicians to meet specific time frames for responding to a consultation request (7 days to acknowledge receipt and 14 days to accept or not accept), and to improve communications with each other and patients to eliminate unnecessary delays. Read the amendment here.
For some this may mean significant adjustments. For Albertans it will certainly mean better care and outcomes. What will it mean for your practice?
We invite you to share your comments below. Your comments will help us develop advice for physicians. We are currently developing an Advice to the Profession document to support physicians in implementing the Referral Consultation standard.
About Dr. Caffaro:
Dr. Michael Caffaro is a graduate of the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency and extra year of surgical training in Edmonton. For more than 21 years, Dr. Caffaro proudly called Hinton his home, practising as a family practitioner with emergency room, obstetrical, surgical and Medical Examiner duties. In April 2015 he moved back to Edmonton and joined the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta as the Assistant Registrar in the Professional Conduct department and the College’s Complaints Director.
Help us improve our formal consultation process
Did you miss the the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Referral Consultation amendment during the formal consultation period from April 6 – June 7, 2016, before the standard was approved by Council? The request for feedback was communicated as follows:
- April 6, 2016 – Email to all active members and stakeholders
- April 11, 2016 – Twitter @CPSA
- April 14 – The Messenger
- April 21, 2016 –MD Scope
- April 28, 2016 –Alberta College of Family Physicians web news
- May 5, 2016 – Email to AMA Section Presidents
- May 13, 2016 –The Messenger
- June 6, 2016 – Twitter @CPSA
We want a robust consultation process and are open to exploring new ways of reaching our members. Please email your suggestions to email@example.com