New medical act to be introduced in House today

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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The province will introduce new legislation concerning the practice of medicine in the House of Assembly this afternoon. This morning Health Minister Jerome Kennedy (left) and Dr. Vinod Patel, Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador met with reporters at Confederatin Building to preview the legislation and answer questions.

A new act will be introduced in the House of Assembly this afternoon to replace existing legislation that regulates the practice of medicine in this province.

Health Minister Jerome Kennedy said, in a news conference this morning, the new legislation is partly in response to the Cameron Inquiry into breast cancer testing errors, as well as other concerns by complainants about access to information gathered during the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador (CPSNL) disciplinary process.

The new act will provide new powers for the college, including allowing it to suspend or restrict a physician’s licence where “conduct deserving of sanction” is suspected, whereas the current legislation only permits the college to suspend a doctor after a guilty verdict.

However, Kennedy and Dr. Vinod Patel, chairman of the council of the CPSNL, couldn’t say today whether names of physicians suspended pending an investigation would be released publicly.

The new legislation will also give the college authorization to make regulations, with ministerial approval, to ensure monitor and verify physician prescribing practices, to ensure that licensed doctors have appropriate orientation, supervision and ongoing assessment processes in place.

Another key element of the new legislation is the establishment of a quality assurance committee, which will include members, who are not physicians, appointed to represent the public interest.

This committee will have the ability to subpoena records, order a physician to undergo an evaluation, assessment, examination or practice review and restrict a physican’s practice. The committee will also be able to order a physician to obtain counselling and order the completion of an education or training program.

Also, rather than have to go to a disciplinary hearing in the future, an individual doctor’s personal health issues, including addictions problems, can be dealt with internally through this committee process, provided there has been no harm to any patient.

This committee is expected to be established by the end of this year.

For full story, see Tuesday’s Telegram

Organizations: College of Physicians

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Rick
    April 11, 2011 - 17:43

    A welcome move forward, but needs to go more to the resolution and revelation of criminal acts by physicians. Other provinces, such as Alberta, and possibly Sask., have already set up a website which allows patients to review any criminal findings or rulings against a physician. We need to move beyond baby steps sooner than later in this important patient safety arena.

  • concerned citizen
    April 11, 2011 - 16:44

    The CPSNL formerly the Newfoundland Medical Board is not a College and should stick to its intended function of assessing licensure. The NLMA is perfectly capable of policing its members and does not need the Government or the CPSNL interfering again . What will public members on a committee do for confidentiality not only for doctors but particularly for the patients who may be involved. Many will remember the unilateral intrusion of government into the Medical Act many years ago. Have they not learned to keep out. The profession has already got its own adequate safeguards and changes are not required because of the incompetence of Eastern Health.

  • John
    April 11, 2011 - 12:02

    I notice that there is no mention of implementation for allowing Physician Assistants. These professionals could speed up wait times at hospitals/doctors offices. They are used in many jurisdictions, including the Canadian Armed Forces and throughout the US. They are allowed to do certain medical proceedures as well as prescribe certain prescerptions and do certain medical proceedures. NL must introduce these people now or we will again be behind the 8-ball as some provinces have already started implementing and teaching people for this profession. This group would undoubtedly be an asset for the medical profession.

    April 11, 2011 - 11:59

    When an act is opened to be changed, anything in that same act can be changed without notice. Politics being what they are today I would suggest a close read of what has been changed.