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