Medico-legal risks, scope of work and CMPA assistance

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian physicians are caring for patients despite great uncertainty, resource limitations, and personal risk. Many physicians are also practising outside of their usual scope of work or location. The CMPA will continue to support you, our members, at this difficult time.

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Will the CMPA assist me with potential medico-legal difficulties that may arise from care I provide during this pandemic?

The CMPA will continue to provide members with liability protection for medico-legal difficulties arising as a result of care provided in Canada in the context of the COVID-19 efforts.

Are there any steps I should take during this pandemic to mitigate medico-legal risk?

As always, members should document their rationale for decisions under crisis situations to assist in the event of medico-legal difficulties.

Do I need to let the CMPA know if I am practising outside my usual scope of work or location?

During the pandemic, you are not required to inform the CMPA of a change in Type of Work (TOW) or Province of Work (POW) prior to commencing your efforts. However, the CMPA would appreciate hearing from you when it is feasible or if you have any questions.

Physicians are encouraged to consult with the relevant medical regulators (Colleges) to ensure the appropriate licensing approvals are in place related to their province of work and scope of practice.

Will the CMPA assist me, if I am asked to provide care outside my usual role or location? Will the CMPA assist me, if I am no longer or not yet licensed to practice medicine in Canada?

It is challenging to predict all of the types of medico-legal difficulty that CMPA members may face arising from the provision of medical care in relation to COVID-19 given the unique context of the outbreak.

Generally speaking, however, the CMPA would assist a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in Canada and a member of the CMPA at the time the care is provided with a legal matter arising in Canada, even if the matter related to the provision of care in a province/territory outside the member's designated province of work or usual field of practice/type of work category. Unlicensed physicians should contact the CMPA directly to discuss their eligibility for assistance in advance of providing any care.

The CMPA article, Public health emergencies and catastrophic events, provides further information about the CMPA’s scope of assistance in these circumstances. Members who have specific questions about their eligibility for assistance are encouraged to discuss their concerns with the CMPA before providing care.