LETTER: Colleges are distorting patient care in Canada
Re: “Are the colleges ballooning out of control?” (April 23)
I read with interest the article about the colleges “ballooning out of control.” I have long been intending to write my own opinion piece on the subject (though anonymously, as I too live in fear of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario).
This hypermoralistic and bloated bureaucracy has gone too far in the direction of harsh punitiveness. For example, if there were some 20,000 complaints as indicated in the story between 2004 and 2011 and there are only about 25,000 MDs in Ontario, it implies that within a decade every single doctor will receive a complaint.
Are most doctors bad apples? How could the college maintain that the process is mostly valid given these numbers?
Everything in our society indicates that complaints are abused and people use them as vindictive tools; over-publicizing of the process has essentially made it easy for an angry individual to punish a doctor. Distortion is caused by the media hyper-informing the public of the same old news-selling story that bad doctors harm the public unregulated, when the opposite is true.
If there were some spirit of balance in the CPSO, this state of affairs would be tolerable and we doctors could work with confidence. But for colleges to take immaterial complaints seriously perpetuates a degradation of the profession. In the courts people are considered innocent until proven guilty; why the college’s harsh standard?
A frequently seen example in daily practice is the “threat of complaint” in which angry patients—for example, those demanding antibiotics—threaten to complain to the college if they don’t get their prescriptions. Most doctors cave in to save themselves the headache of a complaint. Does the college feel MDs giving in to such patients are innocent or rather lapsing in ethics, when they themselves are creating such a “reign of terror” in engendering the situation? Would they not agree they are distorting patient care for many of us in the same way over-litigiousness distorts health care in the United States?
Perhaps the CPSO doesn’t understand the distortions it is causing, in which case an open discussion with all Ontario MDs should be started.—Anonymous, MD, Toronto
It’s a shame this physician feels he/she has to remain anonymous in this very reasonable, polite letter, too fearful to openly stand behind his/her opinions which are no doubt shared by many others. If a child were as fearful of a parent or a dog of its owner as physicians are of the College, there would be every reason to suspect “abuse”.
A physician who fears the College cannot be the “best” physician for his patients. He/she might fear to use initiative or simply comply with patients’ wishes – even if they are not in the patients’ best interest - only to avoid complaints. The result is the mediocre medical care Ontario has offered for years now as those who refuse to be intimidated leave for the U.S. or other locations.
Perhaps the doctor who wrote this ”Letter” would feel differently if he/she had a peek at the following posts to see who/what the CPSO actually is and who/what his/her hard-earned money (no benefits, pension or other perks) is funding. When analyzing “the College” and its “Employees”, “Respect” is not a word most would apply to the majority of College Employees and Council Members. :
It’s not unthinkable that DoctorsOntario - after dealing with the OMA, will direct its full attention to the CPSO (see link).
Actually the College is even more frightened of its physicians. Some physicians have requested personal interviews to discuss minor “problems” or disputes” with College Employees or its Registrar. They have been rebuffed. The College much prefers to communicate via “formal”correspondence, intended to intimidate - not solve anything - ensuring the proper Committees and its Members continue to be fed a steady stream of “work”, justifying the existence of the CPSO and its many hangers-on. See link below for just one example: