From the CEO

CMPA members have access to medical liability protection that enables them to confidently treat their patients. The confidence comes from knowing that patients will be appropriately compensated if they are harmed by negligent clinical care and that their own interests will be protected.

The CMPA has effectively supported Canadian physicians for over 110 years. More than 25,000 members turn to the Association annually for advice and assistance on medical liability issues arising from their professional work. But as the cost of providing medical liability protection in Canada is increasing, we recognize that actions must be taken to ensure the medical liability system remains sustainable into the future. This is crucial if the next generation of physicians is to have the same confidence to deliver care that I and others of my generation have enjoyed throughout our clinical careers. The Canadian healthcare system depends on a sustainable medical liability system and contributing to this goal is the primary objective of the Association’s updated Strategic Plan.

Our experienced physician staff understands the evolving nature of medical practice, the emerging requirements for assistance, and the pressures our members feel every day. To help members deal with these challenges, we have undertaken a significant initiative to proactively identify and assist members who may benefit from our early involvement. Working with medical regulatory authorities (Colleges), hospitals, and others, we will be seeking remedial approaches that will assist physicians in improving their practice. These approaches will be appropriate for the circumstances and will be fair and just.

As one of the largest providers of continuing medical education in Canada, we help members identify risks in their practice so they can improve the safety of their care. However, we know that harm from medical care most frequently occurs not from individual performance but from shortcomings in the system of care. Accordingly, we will be working with key stakeholders to advance system-level changes to improve healthcare safety. For example, we will be collaborating with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN), Accreditation Canada, and others to identify system enhancements in obstetrical care that will improve maternal and fetal outcomes. We will pilot this undertaking in select Ontario birthing centers in 2015 and 2016, and then seek a more comprehensive adoption.

While these and other initiatives should help reduce the longer term costs of medical liability protection, the CMPA recognizes that short-term actions are also required. To that end, we have developed a list of achievable adjustments to civil justice, medical regulatory, and administrative processes that would reduce system costs and produce fair and timely resolutions for physicians and patients. With the support of the provincial medical associations and federations, we are encouraging governments across the country to consider these enhancements.

The CMPA remains committed to assisting our members and ensuring they are able to deliver the high quality medical care Canadians expect. In an ever-changing environment, we remain steadfast in supporting our members and their medical liability protection needs.

Hartley Stern, MD, FRCSC, FACS