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Policies that advocate for the medical profession and Canadians


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Physician-led anesthesia care teams

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9244
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC08-76
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of physician-led anesthesia care teams.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC08-76
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of physician-led anesthesia care teams.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of physician-led anesthesia care teams.
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Distribution of physicians in Canada

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9277
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Resolution
GC08-111
The Canadian Medical Association and the provincial/territorial medical associations will work with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and provincial/territorial medical regulatory bodies to assess the national and international implications for the supply, mix and distribution of physicians in Canada as a result of the requirement for full labour mobility as set out in the Agreement on Internal Trade.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Resolution
GC08-111
The Canadian Medical Association and the provincial/territorial medical associations will work with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and provincial/territorial medical regulatory bodies to assess the national and international implications for the supply, mix and distribution of physicians in Canada as a result of the requirement for full labour mobility as set out in the Agreement on Internal Trade.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association and the provincial/territorial medical associations will work with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and provincial/territorial medical regulatory bodies to assess the national and international implications for the supply, mix and distribution of physicians in Canada as a result of the requirement for full labour mobility as set out in the Agreement on Internal Trade.
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Admissions criteria

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9279
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Health human resources
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC08-105
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian medical schools to revise admissions criteria to require a minimum of two years of post-secondary education.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Health human resources
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC08-105
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian medical schools to revise admissions criteria to require a minimum of two years of post-secondary education.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian medical schools to revise admissions criteria to require a minimum of two years of post-secondary education.
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Access to medical information

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9280
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC08-113
The Canadian Medical Association objects to the current practice of insurers, employers and other third parties requesting and gaining access to unlimited medical information obtained as a result of patients signing forms that grant unrestricted 'consent for release of medical information' when claiming eligibility for disability benefits.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health information and e-health
Resolution
GC08-113
The Canadian Medical Association objects to the current practice of insurers, employers and other third parties requesting and gaining access to unlimited medical information obtained as a result of patients signing forms that grant unrestricted 'consent for release of medical information' when claiming eligibility for disability benefits.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association objects to the current practice of insurers, employers and other third parties requesting and gaining access to unlimited medical information obtained as a result of patients signing forms that grant unrestricted 'consent for release of medical information' when claiming eligibility for disability benefits.
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Medical information

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9281
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health information and e-health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC08-114
The Canadian Medical Association and provincial/territorial medical associations will seek legislative amendments that make the requesting third party responsible for payment for the provision of medical information collected (with patient understanding and consent) for the purposes of a return to work program or accommodation in the workplace.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health information and e-health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC08-114
The Canadian Medical Association and provincial/territorial medical associations will seek legislative amendments that make the requesting third party responsible for payment for the provision of medical information collected (with patient understanding and consent) for the purposes of a return to work program or accommodation in the workplace.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association and provincial/territorial medical associations will seek legislative amendments that make the requesting third party responsible for payment for the provision of medical information collected (with patient understanding and consent) for the purposes of a return to work program or accommodation in the workplace.
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“Surgical Safety Checklist” campaign

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9293
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-05-27
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD08-05-123
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of the World Health Organization’s “Surgical Safety Checklist" campaigns.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-05-27
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD08-05-123
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of the World Health Organization’s “Surgical Safety Checklist" campaigns.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association endorses the concept of the World Health Organization’s “Surgical Safety Checklist" campaigns.
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Accreditation Standards for Continuing Medical Education

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9379
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-10-04
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
BD09-03-32
The CMA commends the rigorous accreditation standards for continuing medical education adopted by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education and supports constant vigilance to ensure that the content of accredited CME events is consistent with the best available scientific information and ethically sound practice.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2008-10-04
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
BD09-03-32
The CMA commends the rigorous accreditation standards for continuing medical education adopted by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education and supports constant vigilance to ensure that the content of accredited CME events is consistent with the best available scientific information and ethically sound practice.
Text
The CMA commends the rigorous accreditation standards for continuing medical education adopted by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education and supports constant vigilance to ensure that the content of accredited CME events is consistent with the best available scientific information and ethically sound practice.
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Examination of adverse events

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11692
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health care and patient safety
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC08-115
The Canadian Medical Association calls on regulatory agencies, hospitals, health regions and others to utilize a non-punitive quality improvement approach to the examination of adverse events while still acknowledging individual accountability.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-08-20
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health care and patient safety
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC08-115
The Canadian Medical Association calls on regulatory agencies, hospitals, health regions and others to utilize a non-punitive quality improvement approach to the examination of adverse events while still acknowledging individual accountability.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association calls on regulatory agencies, hospitals, health regions and others to utilize a non-punitive quality improvement approach to the examination of adverse events while still acknowledging individual accountability.
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Supporting the enactment of Bill C-14, Medical Assistance in Dying

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13693
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2016-05-02
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2016-05-02
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
In this submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the CMA’s feedback is focused on three of the legislative objectives of Bill C-14, given their relevance to the CMA’s Principles-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to Assisted Dying. On behalf of its more than 83,000 members and the Canadian public, the CMA performs a wide variety of functions. Key functions include advocating for health promotion and disease/injury prevention policies and strategies, advocating for access to quality health care, facilitating change within the medical profession, and providing leadership and guidance to physicians to help them influence, manage and adapt to changes in health care delivery. i) Robust Safeguards First, the CMA supports the legislative objective of ensuring a system of robust safeguards to the provision of medical assistance in dying. The safeguards proposed by Bill C-14 include: patient eligibility criteria, process requirements to request medical assistance in dying, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing the majority of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial divisions and over 60 national medical organizations. ii) Consistent, Pan-Canadian Framework Second, the CMA supports the legislative objective that a consistent framework for medical assistance in dying in Canada is desirable. In addition to robust safeguards, key measures proposed by Bill C-14 support the promulgation of a consistent framework across jurisdictions include legislating definitions for “medical assistance in dying” and “grievous and irremediable condition.” The CMA’s Principles-based Recommendations reflect on the subjective nature of what constitutes “enduring and intolerable suffering” and a “grievous and irremediable condition” as well as the physician’s role in making an eligibility determination. iii) End-of-Life Care Coordination System Thirdly, the CMA supports the objective to develop additional measures to support the provision of a full range of options for end-of-life care and to respect the personal convictions of health care providers. The fulfilment of these commitments with federal non-legislative measures will be integral to supporting the achievement of access to care, respecting the personal convictions of health care providers, and developing a consistent, pan-Canadian framework. The CMA encourages the federal government to rapidly advance its commitment to engage the provinces and territories in developing a pan-Canadian end-of-life care coordinating system. It will be essential for this system to be in place for June 6, 2016. At least one jurisdiction has made a system available to support connecting patients with willing providers. Until a pan-Canadian system is available, there will be a disparity of support for patients and practitioners across jurisdictions. iv) Respect Personal Convictions Finally, it is the CMA’s position that Bill C-14, to the extent constitutionally possible, must respect the personal convictions of health care providers. In the Carter decision, the Supreme Court of Canada emphasized that any regulatory or legislative response must seek to reconcile the Charter rights of patients wanting to access assisted dying and physicians who choose not to participate in medical assistance in dying on grounds of conscientious objection. The CMA’s Principles-based Recommendations achieves an appropriate balance between physicians’ freedom of conscience and the assurance of effective and timely patient access to a medical service. From the CMA’s significant consultation with our membership, it is clear that physicians who are comfortable providing referrals strongly believe it is necessary to ensure the system protects the conscience rights of physicians who are not. While the federal government has achieved this balance with Bill C-14, there is the potential for other regulatory bodies to implement approaches that may result in a patchwork system. The CMA’s position is that the federal government effectively mitigate this outcome by rapidly advancing the establishment of the pan-Canadian end-of-life care coordinating system. CMA Supports Cautious Approach for “Carter Plus” The CMA must emphasize the need for caution and careful study in consideration of “Carter Plus”, which includes: eligibility of mature minors, eligibility with respect to sole mental health conditions, and advance care directives. The CMA supports the federal government’s approach not to legislate these issues, rather to study them in greater detail. Word count: 750
Documents
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Guidelines for Physicians in Interactions with Industry

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9041
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2007-12-01
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2007-12-01
Replaces
Physicians and the pharmaceutical industry (Update 2001)
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Text
GUIDELINES FOR PHYSICIANS IN INTERACTIONS WITH INDUSTRY The history of health care delivery in Canada has included interaction between physicians and the pharmaceutical and health supply industries; this interaction has extended to research as well as to education. Physicians understand that they have a responsibility to ensure that their participation in such collaborative efforts is in keeping with their primary obligation to their patients and duties to society, and to avoid situations of conflict of interest where possible and appropriately manage these situations when necessary. They understand as well the need for the profession to lead by example by promoting physician-developed guidelines. The following guidelines have been developed by the CMA to serve as a resource tool for physicians in helping them to determine what type of relationship with industry is appropriate. They are not intended to prohibit or dissuade appropriate interactions of this type, which have the potential to benefit both patients and physicians. Although directed primarily to individual physicians, including residents, and medical students, the guidelines also apply to relationships between industry and medical organizations. General Principles 1. The primary objective of professional interactions between physicians and industry should be the advancement of the health of Canadians. 2. Relationships between physicians and industry are guided by the CMA's Code of Ethics and by this document. 3. The practising physician's primary obligation is to the patient. Relationships with industry are inappropriate if they negatively affect the fiduciary nature of the patient-physician relationship. 4. Physicians should resolve any conflict of interest between themselves and their patients resulting from interactions with industry in favour of their patients. In particular, they must avoid any self-interest in their prescribing and referral practices. 5. Except for physicians who are employees of industry, in relations with industry the physician should always maintain professional autonomy and independence. All physicians should remain committed to scientific methodology. 6. Those physicians with ties to industry have an obligation to disclose those ties in any situation where they could reasonably be perceived as having the potential to influence their judgment. Industry-Sponsored Research 7. A prerequisite for physician participation in all research activities is that these activities are ethically defensible, socially responsible and scientifically valid. The physician's primary responsibility is the well-being of the patient. 8. The participation of physicians in industry sponsored research activities must always be preceded by formal approval of the project by an appropriate ethics review body. Such research must be conducted according to the appropriate current standards and procedures. 9. Patient enrolment and participation in research studies must occur only with the full, informed, competent and voluntary consent of the patient or his or her proxy, unless the research ethics board authorizes an exemption to the requirement for consent. In particular, the enrolling physician must inform the potential research subject, or proxy, about the purpose of the study, its source of funding, the nature and relative probability of harms and benefits, and the nature of the physician's participation and must advise prospective subjects that they have the right to decline to participate or to withdraw from the study at any time, without prejudice to their ongoing care. 10. The physician who enrolls a patient in a research study has an obligation to ensure the protection of the patient's privacy, in accordance with the provisions of applicable national or provincial legislation and CMA's Health Information Privacy Code. If this protection cannot be guaranteed, the physician must disclose this as part of the informed consent process. 11. Practising physicians should not participate in clinical trials unless the study will be registered prior to its commencement in a publicly accessible research registry. 12. Because of the potential to influence judgment, remuneration to physicians for participating in research studies should not constitute enticement. It may cover reasonable time and expenses and should be approved by the relevant research ethics board. Research subjects must be informed if their physician will receive a fee for their participation and by whom the fee will be paid. 13. Finder's fees, whereby the sole activity performed by the physician is to submit the names of potential research subjects, should not be paid. Submission of patient information without their consent would be a breach of confidentiality. Physicians who meet with patients, discuss the study and obtain informed consent for submission of patient information may be remunerated for this activity. 14. Incremental costs (additional costs that are directly related to the research study) must not be paid by health care institutions or provincial or other insurance agencies regardless of whether these costs involve diagnostic procedures or patient services. Instead, they must be assumed by the industry sponsor or its agent. 15. When submitting articles to medical journals, physicians must state any relationship they have to companies providing funding for the studies or that make the products that are the subject of the study whether or not the journals require such disclosure. Funding sources for the study should also be disclosed. 16. Physicians should only be included as an author of a published article reporting the results of an industry sponsored trial if they have contributed substantively to the study or the composition of the article. 17. Physicians should not enter into agreements that limit their right to publish or disclose results of the study or report adverse events which occur during the course of the study. Reasonable limitations which do not endanger patient health or safety may be permissible. Industry-Sponsored Surveillance Studies 18. Physicians should participate only in post-marketing surveillance studies that are scientifically appropriate for drugs or devices relevant to their area of practice and where the study may contribute substantially to knowledge about the drug or device. Studies that are clearly intended for marketing or other purposes should be avoided. 19. Such studies must be reviewed and approved by an appropriate research ethics board. The National Council on Ethics in Human Research is an additional source of advice. 20. The physician still has an obligation to report adverse events to the appropriate body or authority while participating in such a study. Continuing Medical Education / Continuing Professional Development (CME/CPD) 21. This section of the Guidelines is understood to address primarily medical education initiatives designed for practicing physicians. However, the same principles will also apply for educational events (such as noon-hour rounds and journal clubs) which are held as part of medical or residency training. 22. The primary purpose of CME/CPD activities is to address the educational needs of physicians and other health care providers in order to improve the health care of patients. Activities that are primarily promotional in nature, such as satellite symposia, should be identified as such to faculty and attendees and should not be considered as CME/CPD. 23. The ultimate decision on the organization, content and choice of CME/CPD activities for physicians shall be made by the physician-organizers. 24. CME/CPD organizers and individual physician presenters are responsible for ensuring the scientific validity, objectivity and completeness of CME/CPD activities. Organizers and individual presenters must disclose to the participants at their CME/CPD events any financial affiliations with manufacturers of products mentioned at the event or with manufacturers of competing products. There should be a procedure available to manage conflicts once they are disclosed. 25. The ultimate decision on funding arrangements for CME/CPD activities is the responsibility of the physician-organizers. Although the CME/CPD publicity and written materials may acknowledge the financial or other aid received, they must not identify the products of the company(ies) that fund the activities. 26. All funds from a commercial source should be in the form of an unrestricted educational grant payable to the institution or organization sponsoring the CME/CPD activity. 27. Industry representatives should not be members of CME content planning committees. They may be involved in providing logistical support. 28. Generic names should be used in addition to trade names in the course of CME/CPD activities. 29. Physicians should not engage in peer selling. Peer selling occurs when a pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturer or service provider engages a physician to conduct a seminar or similar event that focuses on its own products and is designed to enhance the sale of those products. This also applies to third party contracting on behalf of industry. This form of participation would reasonably be seen as being in contravention of the CMA's Code of Ethics, which prohibits endorsement of a specific product. 30. If specific products or services are mentioned, there should be a balanced presentation of the prevailing body of scientific information on the product or service and of reasonable, alternative treatment options. If unapproved uses of a product or service are discussed, presenters must inform the audience of this fact. 31. Negotiations for promotional displays at CME/CPD functions should not be influenced by industry sponsorship of the activity. Promotional displays should not be in the same room as the educational activity. 32. Travel and accommodation arrangements, social events and venues for industry sponsored CME/CPD activities should be in keeping with the arrangements that would normally be made without industry sponsorship. For example, the industry sponsor should not pay for travel or lodging costs or for other personal expenses of physicians attending a CME/CPD event. Subsidies for hospitality should not be accepted outside of modest meals or social events that are held as part of a conference or meeting. Hospitality and other arrangements should not be subsidized by sponsors for personal guests of attendees or faculty, including spouses or family members. 33. Faculty at CME/CPD events may accept reasonable honoraria and reimbursement for travel, lodging and meal expenses. All attendees at an event cannot be designated faculty. Faculty indicates a presenter who prepares and presents a substantive educational session in an area where they are a recognized expert or authority. Electronic Continuing Professional Development (eCPD) 34. The same general principles which apply to "live, in person" CPD events, as outlined above, also apply to eCPD (or any other written curriculum-based CPD) modules. The term "eCPD" generally refers to accredited on-line or internet-based CPD content or modules. However, the following principles can also apply to any type of written curriculum based CPD. 35. Authors of eCPD modules are ultimately responsible for ensuring the content and validity of these modules and should ensure that they are both designed and delivered at arms'-length of any industry sponsors. 36. Authors of eCPD modules should be physicians with a special expertise in the relevant clinical area and must declare any relationships with the sponsors of the module or any competing companies. 37. There should be no direct links to an industry or product website on any web page which contains eCPD material. 38. Information related to any activity carried out by the eCPD participant should only be collected, used, displayed or disseminated with the express informed consent of that participant. 39. The methodologies of studies cited in the eCPD module should be available to participants to allow them to evaluate the quality of the evidence discussed. Simply presenting abstracts that preclude the participant from evaluating the quality of evidence should be avoided. When the methods of cited studies are not available in the abstracts, they should be described in the body of the eCPD module. 40. If the content of eCPD modules is changed, re-accreditation is required. Advisory/Consultation Boards 41. Physicians may be approached by industry representatives and asked to become members of advisory or consultation boards, or to serve as individual advisors or consultants. Physicians should be mindful of the potential for this relationship to influence their clinical decision making. While there is a legitimate role for physicians to play in these capacities, the following principles should be observed: A. The exact deliverables of the arrangement should be clearly set out and put in writing in the form of a contractual agreement. The purpose of the arrangement should be exclusively for the physician to impart specialized medical knowledge that could not otherwise be acquired by the hiring company, and should not include any promotional or educational activities on the part of the company itself. B. Remuneration of the physician should be reasonable and take into account the extent and complexity of the physician's involvement. C. Whenever possible, meetings should be held in the geographic locale of the physician or as part of a meeting which he/she would normally attend. When these arrangements are not feasible, basic travel and accommodation expenses may be reimbursed to the physician advisor or consultant. Meetings should not be held outside of Canada, with the exception of international boards. Clinical Evaluation Packages (Samples) 42. The distribution of samples should not involve any form of material gain for the physician or for the practice with which he or she is associated. 43. Physicians who accept samples or other health care products are responsible for recording the type and amount of medication or product dispensed. They are also responsible for ensuring their age-related quality and security and their proper disposal. Gifts 44. Practising physicians should not accept personal gifts of any significant monetary or other value from industry. Physicians should be aware that acceptance of gifts of any value has been shown to have the potential to influence clinical decision making. Other Considerations 45. These guidelines apply to relationships between physicians and all commercial organizations, including but not limited to manufacturers of medical devices, nutritional products and health care products as well as service suppliers. 46. Physicians should not dispense pharmaceuticals or other products unless they can demonstrate that these cannot be provided by an appropriate other party, and then only on a cost-recovery basis. 47. Physicians should not invest in industries or related undertakings if this might inappropriately affect the manner of their practice or their prescribing behaviour. 48. Practising physicians affiliated with pharmaceutical companies should not allow their affiliation to influence their medical practice inappropriately. 49. Practising physicians should not accept a fee or equivalent consideration from pharmaceutical manufacturers or distributors in exchange for seeing them in a promotional or similar capacity. 50. Practising physicians may accept patient teaching aids appropriate to their area of practice provided these aids carry at most the logo of the donor company and do not refer to specific therapeutic agents, services or other products. Medical Students and Residents 51. The principles in these guidelines apply to physicians-in training as well as to practising physicians. 52. Medical curricula should deal explicitly with the guidelines by including educational sessions on conflict of interest and physician-industry interactions.
Documents
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Caring in a Crisis: The Ethical Obligations of Physicians and Society During a Pandemic

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9109
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-02-23
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-02-23
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Inherent in all health care professional Codes of Ethics is the duty to provide care to patients and to relieve suffering whenever possible. However, this duty does not exist in a vacuum, and depends on the provision of goods and services referred to as reciprocal obligations, which must be provided by governments, health care institutions and other relevant bodies and agencies. The obligation of government and society to physicians can be seen as comparable to the obligations of physicians to their patients. The recent experience of Canadian physicians during the SARS epidemic in Toronto has heightened the sensitivities of the medical profession to several issues that arose during the course of dealing with that illness. Many of the lessons learned (and the unanswered questions that arose) also apply to the looming threat of an avian flu (or other) pandemic. Canadian physicians may be in a relatively unique position to consider these issues given their experience and insight. The intent of this working paper is to highlight the ethical issues of greatest concern to practicing Canadian physicians which must be considered during a pandemic. In order to address these issues before they arise, the CMA presents this paper for consideration by individual physicians, physician organizations, governments, policy makers and interested bodies and stakeholders. Although many of the principles and concepts could readily be applied to other health care workers, the focus of this paper will be on physicians. Policies regarding physicians in training, including medical students and residents, should be clarified in advance by the relevant bodies involved in their oversight and training. Issues of concern would include the responsibilities of trainees to provide care during a pandemic and the potential effect of such an outbreak on their education and training. A. Physician obligations during a pandemic The professional obligations of physicians are well spelled out in the CMA Code of Ethics and other documents and publications and are not the main focus of this paper. However, they will be reviewed and discussed as follows. Several important principles of medical ethics will be of particular relevance in considering this issue. Physicians have an obligation to be beneficent to their patients and to consider what is in the patient's best interest. According to the first paragraph of the CMA Code of Ethics (2004), "Consider first the well-being of the patient". Traditionally, physicians have also respected the principle of altruism, whereby they set aside concern for their own health and well-being in order to serve their patients. While this has often manifested itself primarily as long hours away from home and family, and a benign neglect of personal health issues, at times more drastic sacrifices have been required. During previous pandemics, many physicians have served selflessly in the public interest, often at great risk to their own well-being. The principle of justice requires physicians to consider what is owed to whom and why, including what resources are needed, and how these resources would best be employed during a pandemic. These resources might include physician services but could also include access to vaccines and medications, as well as access to equipment such as ventilators or to a bed in the intensive care unit. According to paragraph 43 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians have an obligation to "Recognize the responsibility of physicians to promote equitable access to health care resources". In addition, physicians can reasonably be expected to participate in the process of planning for a pandemic or other medical disaster. According to paragraph 42 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Recognize the profession's responsibility to society in matters relating to public health, health education, environmental protection, legislation affecting the health and well-being of the community and the need for testimony at judicial proceedings". This responsibility could reasonably be seen to apply both to individual physicians as well as the various bodies and organizations that represent them. Physicians also have an ethical obligation to recognize their limitations and the extent of the services they are able to provide. During a pandemic, physicians may be asked to assume roles or responsibilities with which they are not comfortable, nor prepared. Paragraph 15 of the CMA Code of Ethics reminds physicians to "Recognize your limitations and, when indicated, recommend or seek additional opinions or services". However, physicians have moral rights as well as obligations. The concept of personal autonomy allows physicians some discretion in determining where, how and when they will practice medicine. They also have an obligation to safeguard their own health. As stated in paragraph 10 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Promote and maintain your own health and well-being". The SARS epidemic has served to reopen the ethical debate. Health care practitioners have been forced to reconsider their obligations during a pandemic, including whether they must provide care to all those in need regardless of the level of personal risk. As well, they have been re-examining the obligation of governments and others to provide reciprocal services to physicians, and the relationship between these obligations. B. Reciprocal obligations towards physicians While there has been much debate historically (and especially more recently) about the ethical obligations of physicians towards their patients and society in general, the consideration of reciprocal obligations towards physicians is a relatively recent phenomenon. During the SARS epidemic, a large number of Canadian physicians unselfishly volunteered to assist their colleagues in trying to bring the epidemic under control. They did so, in many cases, in spite of significant personal risk, and with very little information about the nature of the illness, particularly early in the course of the outbreak. Retrospective analysis has cast significant doubt and concern on the amount of support and assistance provided to physicians during the crisis. Communication and infrastructure support was poor at best. Equipment was often lacking and not always up to standard when it was available. Psychological support and counselling was not readily available at the point of care, nor was financial compensation for those who missed work due to illness or quarantine. Although the Ontario government did provide retrospective compensation for many physicians whose practices were affected by the outbreak, the issue was addressed late, and not at all in some cases. It is clear that Canadian physicians have learned greatly from this experience. The likelihood of individuals again volunteering "blindly" has been reduced to the point where it may never happen again. There are expectations that certain conditions and obligations will be met in order to optimize patient care and outcomes and to protect health care workers and their families. Because physicians and other health care providers will be expected to put themselves directly in harm's way, and to bear a disproportionate burden of the personal hardships associated with a pandemic, the argument has been made that society has a reciprocal obligation to support and compensate these individuals. According to the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics report We stand on guard for thee, "(The substantive value of) reciprocity requires that society support those who face a disproportionate burden in protecting the public good, and take steps to minimize burdens as much as possible. Measures to protect the public good are likely to impose a disproportionate burden on health care workers, patients and their families." Therefore, in order to provide adequate care for patients, the reciprocal obligation to physicians requires providing some or all of the following: Prior to a pandemic - Physicians and the organizations that represent them should be more involved in planning and decision making at the local, national and international levels. In turn, physicians and the organizations that represent them have an obligation to participate as well. - Physicians should be made aware of a clear plan for resource utilization, including: - how physicians will be relieved of duties after a certain time; - clearly defined roles and expectations, especially for those practicing outside of their area of expertise; - vaccination/treatment plans - will physicians (and their families) have preferential access based on the need to keep caregivers healthy and on the job; - triage plans, including how the triage model might be altered and plans to inform the public of such. - Physicians should have access to the best equipment needed and should be able to undergo extra training in its use if required. - Politicians and leaders should provide reassurances that satisfy physicians that they will not be "conscripted" by legislation. During a pandemic - Physicians should have access to up-to-date, real time information. - Physicians should be kept informed about developments in Canada and globally. - Communication channels should be opened with other countries (e.g. Canada should participate in WHO initiatives to identify the threats before they arrive on our doorstep). - Resources should be provided for backup and relief of physicians and health care workers. - Arrangements should be made for timely provision of necessary equipment in an ongoing fashion. - Physicians should be compensated for lost clinical earnings and to cover expenses such as lost wages, lost group earnings, overhead, medical care, medications, rehabilitative therapy and other relevant expenses in case of quarantine, clinic cancellations or illness (recognizing that determining exactly when or where an infection was acquired may be difficult). - Families should receive financial compensation in the case of a physician family member who dies as a result of providing care during a pandemic. - In the event that physicians may be called upon in a pandemic to practice outside of their area of expertise or outside their jurisdiction, they should to contact their professional liability protection provider for information on their eligibility for protection in these circumstances. - Interprovincial or national licensing programs should be developed to provide physicians with back-up and relief and ensure experts can move from place to place in a timely fashion without undue burden. - Psychological and emotional counselling and support should be provided in a timely fashion for physicians, their staff and family members. - Accommodation (i.e. a place to stay) should be provided for physicians who have to travel to another locale to provide care; or who don't want to go home and put their family at risk, when this is applicable, i.e. the epidemiology of the infectious disease causing the pandemic indicates substantially greater risk of acquiring infection in the health care setting than in the community. - Billing and compensation arrangements should ensure physicians are properly compensated for the services they are providing, including those who may not have an active billing number in the province where the services are being provided. After a pandemic - Physicians should receive assistance in restarting their practice (replacing staff, restocking overhead, communicating with patients, and any other costs related to restarting the practice). - Physicians should receive ongoing psychological support and counselling as required. C. How are physician obligations and reciprocal obligations related? Beyond a simple statement of the various obligations, it is clear that there must be some link between these different obligations. This is particularly important since there is now some time to plan for the next pandemic and to ensure that reciprocal obligations can be met prior to its onset. Physicians have always provided care in emergency situations without questioning what they are owed. According to paragraph 18 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Provide whatever appropriate assistance you can to any person with an urgent need for medical care". However, in situations where obligations can be anticipated and met in advance, it is reasonable to expect that they will be addressed. Whereas a physician who encounters an emergency situation at the site of a car crash will act without concern for personal gain or motivation, a physician caring for the same patient in an emergency department will rightly expect the availability of proper equipment and personnel. In order to ensure proper patient care and physician safety, and to ensure physicians are able to meet their professional obligations and standards, the reciprocal obligations outlined above should be addressed by the appropriate body or organization. Conclusion If patient and physician well-being is not optimized by clarifying the obligations of physicians and society prior to the next pandemic, in spite of available time and resources necessary to do so, there are many who would call into question the ethical duty of physicians to provide care. However, the CMA believes that, in the very best and most honourable traditions of the medical profession, its members will provide care and compassion to those in need. We call on governments and society to assist us in optimizing this care for all Canadians.
Documents
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Medical assistance in dying education

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11941
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-48
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of education and the development of Canadian accreditation elements related to medical assistance in dying for all medical students and resident physicians.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-48
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of education and the development of Canadian accreditation elements related to medical assistance in dying for all medical students and resident physicians.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of education and the development of Canadian accreditation elements related to medical assistance in dying for all medical students and resident physicians.
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Gender-diversity policy

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11894
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC16-24
The Canadian Medical Association will develop a gender-diversity policy to increase representation in all levels of medical leadership.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC16-24
The Canadian Medical Association will develop a gender-diversity policy to increase representation in all levels of medical leadership.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association will develop a gender-diversity policy to increase representation in all levels of medical leadership.
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Palliative and end-of-life care

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11895
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-52
The Canadian Medical Association acknowledges that palliative and end-of-life care has public health implications.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-52
The Canadian Medical Association acknowledges that palliative and end-of-life care has public health implications.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association acknowledges that palliative and end-of-life care has public health implications.
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Medical tourism

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11896
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-25
The Canadian Medical Association calls for inclusion of the ethical and medicolegal aspects of medical tourism as part of the medical school curriculum.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-25
The Canadian Medical Association calls for inclusion of the ethical and medicolegal aspects of medical tourism as part of the medical school curriculum.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association calls for inclusion of the ethical and medicolegal aspects of medical tourism as part of the medical school curriculum.
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Unique challenges of managing pain in older adults

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11900
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Resolution
GC16-29
The Canadian Medical Association recommends research into and education for health care providers concerning the unique challenges of managing pain in older adults.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Resolution
GC16-29
The Canadian Medical Association recommends research into and education for health care providers concerning the unique challenges of managing pain in older adults.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association recommends research into and education for health care providers concerning the unique challenges of managing pain in older adults.
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Emergency health services

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11914
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-43
The Canadian Medical Association supports initiatives to enhance the capacity of primary care physicians to provide emergency health services during and after disasters.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-43
The Canadian Medical Association supports initiatives to enhance the capacity of primary care physicians to provide emergency health services during and after disasters.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports initiatives to enhance the capacity of primary care physicians to provide emergency health services during and after disasters.
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Eligibility criteria for blood donors

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11943
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-57
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian blood service providers and Health Canada to adjust eligibility criteria for blood donors so that these criteria are behaviour-based and do not consider sexual orientation.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-57
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian blood service providers and Health Canada to adjust eligibility criteria for blood donors so that these criteria are behaviour-based and do not consider sexual orientation.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association urges Canadian blood service providers and Health Canada to adjust eligibility criteria for blood donors so that these criteria are behaviour-based and do not consider sexual orientation.
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Health and wellness plans for residents

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11944
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC16-77
The Canadian Medical Association supports the development of health and wellness plans for residents that include tools for meditation and self-reflection.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC16-77
The Canadian Medical Association supports the development of health and wellness plans for residents that include tools for meditation and self-reflection.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports the development of health and wellness plans for residents that include tools for meditation and self-reflection.
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Wellness and resiliency curricula in medical education

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11946
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-79
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of wellness and resiliency curricula in medical education and Canadian accreditation standards and elements.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2016-08-24
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC16-79
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of wellness and resiliency curricula in medical education and Canadian accreditation standards and elements.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports the inclusion of wellness and resiliency curricula in medical education and Canadian accreditation standards and elements.
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