Duties and responsibilities

Expectations of physicians in practice

Mandatory reporting: what you need to know

An article for physicians by physicians
Originally published June 2005 / Revised February 2008


Legislation requires physicians to report individuals in the transportation industry whose medical condition may constitute a threat to safety.

Of interest to physicians dealing with patients working in the transportation industry

Not long ago a member called the CMPA asking about his duty to report a patient—a pilot with a fasting blood sugar level of 13 micromoles per litre at his last checkup. This type of call is common.

You can understand the member's need to be certain of the action he takes in this situation. Reporting may mean the end of the pilot's career. Not reporting could have serious safety consequences. In addition, failure to report could have significant professional and liability implications for the physician.

Most physicians are aware of their obligation to report to provincial/territorial transportation authorities individuals who are medically unfit to operate a motor vehicle.

Perhaps less well known is that federal legislation currently mandates similar reporting of aviators, air traffic controllers, commercial seafarers and certain designated railway workers who have medical conditions that might constitute a threat to safety.

It is important to recognize that interpreting the reporting requirements is not always straightforward. To avoid misinterpretation and unnecessary hardship for patients, members faced with a reporting situation may wish to consult with the appropriate medical contact before making a formal report.

What happened to our member? We informed him he must follow the provisions of the appropriate legislation, the Aeronautics Act, which in this case mandated reporting of the patient. We advised him to contact the Regional Aviation Medical Officer in his area for more information and to make the report. Finally, the member was advised to speak with the patient to explain the mandatory responsibility to report.

Further information is available on the Transport Canada website.


DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this learning material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, nor to constitute a "standard of care" for Canadian healthcare professionals. The use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the CMPA's Terms of Use.