The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) continues to see a high volume of concerns submitted from both regulated members and Albertans during the pandemic. Our legislated mandate is to ensure patients across the province are receiving safe and competent care, and we take reports of non-compliance with COVID-19 measures very seriously.
There are a number of avenues available to us in addressing these concerns, and most recently, CPSA began utilizing an inspection process through Part 3.1 of the Health Professions Act (HPA), to assess cases of significant concern.
“CPSA has several authorities granted to us under the HPA and we felt it was imperative from a public safety perspective to go down the path of unannounced, on-site clinic inspections,” says Dr. Scott McLeod, CPSA Registrar. “We recognize the vast majority of our regulated members are adhering to our Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics & Professionalism and public health measures, but we continue to see a very small group who are reported to be violating these policies and putting Albertans at risk.”
As part of the inspection process outlined in Part 3.1 of the HPA, CPSA has the authority to access patient records to corroborate physician adherence. CPSA takes patient privacy very seriously and can assure Albertans their private health information remains confidential and is only accessed in relation to the regulated member’s conduct.
While specific details of an inspection are confidential under the HPA, there are a number of outcomes that can occur, such as a referral to CPSA’s Continuing Competence team for an educational intervention, or to the Professional Conduct department in cases where allegations of unprofessional conduct are substantiated. A practice restriction can be imposed on a physician’s practice permit in a number of different ways under the HPA, including as a result of an inspection. A practice restriction on a physician’s practice permit is public information available on the physician’s profile on CPSA’s website.
On-site assessments by CPSA representatives are not uncommon in clinic settings and are often utilized by Continuing Competence programs. While these particular inspections are unannounced, our representatives still take the same courteous approach, making every effort not to interrupt care that is underway.