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Colleges setting transparency guidelines

Though recent events in the media have put accountability and transparency for the Colleges that oversee physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and other health professionals on the legislative agenda, the fact is that the some regulators had already developed draft principles to guide them in decisions about making more information publicly available, says Toronto health lawyer Lonny Rosen.

The regulatory Colleges have done this work through the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence (AGRE), he tells

Rosen, partner at Rosen Sunshine LLP, points to two events in particular that occurred recently to move this issue to the forefront of the legislative agenda for health.

Firstly, the media lambasted a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Discipline Committee decision to suspend a physician for eight months after he admitted and was found to have engaged in sexual abuse with one female patient and engaged in inappropriate conduct with as many as 12 other women. Read more here. The media further lambasted the CPSO when it was reported that the police were not investigating this physician because the CPSO had not made a report to the police, he says.

The second was a report of infections involving four Toronto pain and colonoscopy clinics, as well as deficiencies in infection control at a Toronto pain clinic that had passed the CPSO’s inspection process. The Toronto Star criticized the fact that infection control deficiencies were identified by Toronto Public Health but not reported by the CPSO, which oversees out-of-hospital premises. Read more here.

Rosen weighs in on the issue as The Star reports that the Colleges responsible for regulating health professionals in Ontario are scrambling to meet a Dec. 1 deadline set by Health Minister Eric Hoskins to outline concrete steps they’ll take toward more transparency.

"Hoskins sent a letter to the province’s 23 self-regulating Colleges, such as those responsible for physicians, massage therapists, psychologists and dentists, telling them he wants to know the measures they will implement to fully disclose information about their investigations to the public," says the newspaper.

Six of the Colleges – those dealing with medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and physiotherapy – are currently discussing measures for phase two of a transparency project they already have in the works. The second phase would include more information about investigations, reports The Star.

Rosen predicts that developments will include website reporting of investigations and written cautions.

He notes that neither of these measures involve hearings or the chance to question witnesses, and observes that publication of cautions that are intended not to punish or to determine misconduct but to guide members in their practice may be inconsistent with their desired effect.

"It is important to remember that cautions are issued by Inquiries, Reports and Complaints Committees without a hearing but only on the basis of written submissions," Rosen says.

To Read More Lonny Rosen Posts Click Here
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