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Patient safety

Ontario to publicize more medical error data

TORONTO – The Ontario government announced that it intends to make much more information concerning medical error and complaints against physicians publicly available on the web. The moves are designed to reduce the atmosphere of secrecy surrounding healthcare and to promote patient safety.

Said Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman: “Our proposed changes would ensure that patients have easier access to information to make informed choices about their healthcare providers.”

Through the amendments it has tabled, the government will be proposing changes to existing provisions of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 including posting on a health regulatory college’s website:

• findings of malpractice and professional negligence against one of its members

• all matters referred to its discipline committee

• every suspension or revocation of a member’s certificate of registration

Where a healthcare professional has been found guilty of any offence, he or she will be required to report this to their regulatory college. If the offence relates to the healthcare professional’s suitability to practice, the health regulatory college would then make the subsequent finding of professional misconduct public on its website.

Patients will also have access to information on discipline and incapacity decision made by regulatory colleges. Such decisions would be posted on the college’s web site, and information would no longer be automatically removed from the site after six years.

In addition to these changes, the Ontario government announced that it intends to move forward with a regulation to require hospitals to inform patients when errors occur, as well as hospital-level reporting of critical patient safety measures to the public.

In partnership with leaders in the hospital sector, including the Ontario Hospital Association, the government will work to establish a standard approach to this public reporting.

The government is proposing the changes at the present time, and no time line has been put forward.