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Legally Speaking
December 2021
By Sheila Torrance, Legal Counsel, CPSS

Policy consultation - Responsibility for a Medical Practice

As many of you are likely aware, the College Council is in the process of adopting a new policy entitled “Responsibility for a Medical Practice.”  All physicians and other stakeholders were invited to participate in a consultation process relating to this policy last summer.

At its November meeting, the Council considered recommendations from the committee that had reviewed the consultation feedback.  Based on the committee’s recommendations, the Council approved in principle a fairly fundamental change to the draft policy.  This is a requirement that all multi-physician clinics must have a physician designated as the medical director.

There were several reasons for this change, including the challenges the College has experienced in addressing concerns raised (by physicians and the public) with respect to clinics owned by non-physicians.  The fact that non-physicians are not currently “trustees” under The Health Information Protection Act was also a consideration. 

While the proposed policy includes a requirement that a medical director is able to communicate on behalf of the clinic and is to have  “some reasonable degree of administrative and operational oversight”, the Council felt that the policy achieved a balance.  Each clinic will be able to decide which of the listed tasks will fall to the medical director; if the medical director does not have designated responsibility, then ALL physicians in the clinic are responsible.   The proposed policy also specifies that a medical director is not responsible for the professional conduct of their colleagues; as such, the medical director is not expected to “supervise” their colleagues in the clinic.

Recognizing that many clinics will choose to rotate physicians through the medical director role, there is no obligation in the proposed policy to report to the College as to who is the designated medical director.  However, if concerns arise and the College contacts the clinic, it should be clear who is in that role and able to communicate on behalf of the clinic.

Given the broad impact of this new proposed policy, the Council wanted to provide a second opportunity for physicians to provide feedback before the policy is finalized and approved.  Please fill out the survey below or go to the Policy Consultation  page to review the proposed policy and respond to the survey questionnaire.

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  Sheila Torrance is Legal Counsel at the
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan.