Dernières nouvelles sur la médecine familiale

le 26 mai 2017

La Presse
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Toronto Star
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The Telegram
Canadian survey on life after addiction points to successes and challenges

Winnipeg Free Press
Alberta’s Auditor General calls for immediate action to repair fragmented health care system

The Medical Post
Alberta doctors reminded of their obligation to report minors at risk

WRITTEN BY DONALEE MOULTON ON MAY 25, 2017 FOR THE MEDICAL POST

Edmonton – The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) has taken a major step to remind doctors they have a legal obligation to report minor patients at risk.

That did not happen recently. A doctor failed to alert Child Protective Services about a minor being treated for addiction and other issues. The minor had been using illicit fentanyl for almost three years. According to an article in the current issue of the college’s monthly newsletter, The Messenger, the physician had an obligation to notify the proper authorities because of the significant risk of an accidental drug overdose.

“The physician did not report this information to the proper authorities, and was therefore in violation of the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act,” the article states.

According to the 132-page act, “[A] a child is in need of intervention if there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the survival, security or development of the child is endangered.”

That act, last revised in 2000, compels anyone who believes a minor is in need of intervention to report the matter to a Child Protective Services agent or other official. This legal obligation surmounts both doctor-patient confidentiality and legislation protecting health information.

At this point, the college’s role in the issue is primarily to make physicians aware of their legal obligation, said CPSA director of communications Kelly Eby. However, she noted, a complaint could be opened if the college was provided with a doctor’s name. “If someone else filed a complaint, than we would be required to investigate it, but there is no guarantee that it would result in discipline. It would all depend on the circumstances of that particular case.”

The requirement to report is not always clear cut and the college would have to carefully way the circumstances of each case, Eby noted. “Many of these instances are not black and white. We would need to understand the physician’s reasons for making [their] decision.”

It is not currently known how significant the non-reporting of minors at risk is or whether this is a growing issue. Likewise, it is not known whether physicians in the province were aware of their reporting obligation before the college’s recent article.

The CPSA also has a 31-page advice document, Legislated Reporting and Release of Medical Information, that discusses physicians’ reporting requirements in detail.

According to the Canadian Medical Protective Association, Alberta is not alone in its reporting obligations when minors are at risk. Every province and territory has legislation that imposes a duty on physicians to report to a child protection agency if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a minor is in need of protection.

 

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