[from CPSO newsletter, Jan 31 2013]

This newsletter announces an important decision made at a special meeting of Council held on January 31, 2013. 

The Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has passed a by-law that allows the results of out-of-hospital premises inspections to be made public. College inspections ensure that facilities are properly equipped and staffed in the interest of patient safety.

With this by-law, the public will now have access to the most current status of premises inspections conducted to date and every future outcome. The conditions imposed on a premises that received a Pass with Conditions outcome and the reasons why a premises received a Fail outcome will also be available.

The College’s online Public Register has been updated to add the Out-of-Hospital Premises Listing. This information includes the outcome/status of an inspection of the premises, and will be updated regularly. Premises are listed alphabetically, and the associated information is displayed starting from January 31, 2013.

The Ontario government granted the College the authority to create the program in 2010 to address a gap in the oversight of premises that perform cosmetic surgery, colonoscopies, interventional pain procedures and cataract surgeries in clinical settings that are outside of hospitals. The College strongly advocated for this inspection program to enhance patient safety through improved quality standards.

“The College has moved swiftly to ensure the transparency of our program to provide the public access to inspection outcomes to help inform their health-care choices,” Council President Dr. Eric Stanton told Council members after the unanimous vote.

The majority of those who responded to the by-law consultation agreed with the College’s move towards making the program more transparent. Of the 267 respondents, nearly 60% were in favour of the proposed by-law and an additional 26% were in favour, with conditions. Fourteen percent of respondents opposed the by-law. More than 90% of the respondents were physicians.

Outcomes for inspections are Pass, Pass with Conditions, and Fail. A Pass outcome means that all OHP standards are met. A Pass with Conditions outcome means that there are some OHP standards that must be met but the premises’ failure to do so does not pose an immediate risk to patient health and safety. A Fail outcome means there is an immediate threat to patient health and safety and physicians must cease practising OHP procedures in the premises to remove the potential threat to patients and the public. Examples of why a clinic may fail include inadequate qualifications of staff, including physicians and nurses; inadequate physical space; and inadequate infection control practices.

The by-law change follows up on the commitment made in the College’s December 2012 program report, Bridging the Gap: A Patient Safety Imperative to share the results of premises inspections with the public.

By having access to the most current and relevant information, the public will be able to make informed decisions about their health care.

The College launched a broader transparency project in 2012 and will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other Ontario health regulatory colleges on this initiative.

More information about the Out-of-Hospital Premises Inspection Program is available here.