CMPA assistance in legal matters arising from telehealth: Technology makes location of physician less relevant
Of interest to all physicians
Member interest and participation in telehealth continue to grow. Technology now enables some physicians to care for their patients in Canada, even when the physician is outside of Canada.
Most radiological diagnostic images taken in Canada are generated digitally. Teleradiology makes it possible for images to be viewed elsewhere in the world without loss of quality.
The rapidly evolving practice of telehealth has made the location of the physician less relevant. To reflect this change, the CMPA has updated its general principles on the extent of assistance available for medico-legal difficulties arising from the practice of telehealth.
Approach to assistance
The CMPA's approach to assisting members with matters related to telehealth is consistent with its approach to assisting members in other matters: the CMPA will generally assist its members in the event of medico-legal difficulties arising in Canada as a result of professional work done in Canada. The CMPA is not structured to assist with problems that arise outside of Canada or result from care given outside of Canada. Legal actions in other jurisdictions, particularly the United States, can be prohibitively expensive.
In determining your eligibility for CMPA assistance in the practice of telehealth, an important factor is where the professional work is done or, in other words, where the care is provided. The CMPA deems the location where care is provided to be where the patient is located at the time of the telehealth encounter. Technology has made the location of the physician less relevant.
Deciding on eligibility
In general, members will be eligible for CMPA assistance with matters arising from a telehealth encounter when:
Furthermore, the CMPA generally will not assist in matters arising from a telehealth encounter where the patient was outside of Canada at the time of the encounter.
Other scenarios may occur, such as when a patient is outside of Canada temporarily (e.g., on vacation, temporary employment, or students pursuing studies abroad) and phones or emails your office regarding a medical problem related to a condition you are managing. In such a situation, you would generally be eligible for assistance, as long as any legal action is initiated in Canada. Given the potential limitations of such communication, it may be prudent to consider the appropriateness of advising the patient to seek local follow-up.
Before becoming involved in a telehealth encounter, check the following:
Be aware other CMPA general principles may affect your eligibility for assistance in telehealth encounters:
The CMPA maintains full discretion to grant or decline assistance to the member in every case. If you want more information, please contact us at