Physician Advisory Service

What to expect when contacting the Physician Advisory Service

You’ve probably heard of the Physician Advisory Service, and perhaps you are one of the thousands of physicians who contact us each year with questions pertaining to practice issues. But some of you may not be familiar with the service.

The Physician Advisory Service (PAS) was established to provide guidance and information to members. Physicians often contact the College with questions pertaining to general practice issues, or seek guidance in managing challenging situations. Physicians also frequently call requesting clarification of College policies or relevant legislation. In addition, PAS staff manage all calls related to the annual renewal, including providing clarification and guidance about specific questions and assistance with various technical questions and issues.

In 2011, PAS managed over 4,200 inquiries from members, the vast majority (97%) of which pertained to general inquiries, administrative or practice-related issues. An additional 2% involved physician-physician disputes, generally arising from business transactions and disagreements over medical records ownership. Only 1% of calls pertained to concerns involving incompetence or incapacity of a member.

Goldig Brian imgThe overwhelming majority of calls do not raise concerns for the College and would not precipitate any further action other than documentation of the call. If a physician, however, expresses a concern which leads us to believe that patient safety may be being compromised in some manner, the College has an obligation to investigate the matter further. This generally occurs only when a physician expresses concern about the clinical competence or possible incapacity of another physician.

When we hear this type of concern, the Physician Advisor clearly informs the physician that the College may have to take further action and provides the physician with the opportunity to discuss the situation anonymously. The Advisor will continue to provide guidance and information to the physician, but will also explain that physicians have an ethical, and sometimes mandatory, obligation to inform the College of concerns where patients may be at risk. Should the member elect to provide the name of the physician about whom they are concerned, the information is forwarded to our Investigations and Resolutions department for review, and the caller is informed of such.

We appreciate the concern that some members may have with respect to confidentiality and anonymity, but our experience indicates that physicians understand the College’s mandate and its obligation to pursue matters that are significant and that may compromise patient safety. We have also taken measures to allow physicians to provide the information on an anonymous or non-nominal basis.

Questions or comments about PAS?

Contact us at [email protected] or 416-967-2606.