Principles of assistance

Providing medical input in an administrative role

Originally published June 1999 / Revised February 2016

The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) provides medical-legal assistance to members, where eligible, for matters arising from their medical professional work or that call into question their medical professional expertise.

Physicians may be asked to participate in committees, boards (including research boards), or management for organizations such as hospitals, health authorities, community colleges, and universities. Physicians may also act as the medical director/chief medical officer for corporations, health-related organizations, and cultural or sporting events. The following outlines the CMPA's principles of assistance for members who serve in administrative roles.

The CMPA will not generally extend assistance with respect to administrative duties undertaken by members. Therefore, the CMPA will not typically assist with non-clinical acts that members perform in their administrative role. For example, the CMPA will not generally extend assistance to defend policies, procedures, or other directives established on behalf of other organizations. Physicians fulfilling an administrative role should ensure that the organization that they are being asked to serve will provide them with full defence and full indemnification in the event of legal problems that arise from their role.

CMPA members will generally be eligible for assistance in the event of medical-legal difficulties arising from their medical advice and opinions. For example, CMPA assistance would generally be available to a member facing an allegation that any medical input such as advice and opinions provided by the member to a board, committee, or management was negligent.

The bottom line

Physicians contemplating an administrative role should consider the following:

  • CMPA assistance is generally limited to matters arising from a member's medical professional work.
  • CMPA assistance is generally available to members for matters arising from their medical input, but not for matters related to non-clinical acts that members perform in their administrative role.
  • Members should obtain, in writing, confirmation from the organization that it will provide full defence and full indemnification for any legal matter arising from their administrative role.
  • Members should carefully review all indemnification clauses in any contract or agreement with their personal lawyer prior to signing it. 

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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.