Prevention and Counselling Services
The Inquiries Division of the Collège des médecins du Québec offers counseling services to its members. All physicians and their mandataries may take advantage of these. Physicians may seek the advice of the Collège by telephone or in writing. They will then receive an answer, either verbally or in writing. Any question of an ethical or regulatory nature may be submitted for discussion and counsel. These questions may concern, among other things, situations involving confidentiality, the limits of the physician-patient relationship, a physician’s departure from a clinic, retirement, advertising, potential conflicts of interest, or accessibility to a file.
In addition to counselling services for physicians, a reception service is available for any person seeking advice from the Collège by telephone. Depending on the object of the request, the call will be forwarded to the division of the Collège best able to respond to it.
For purposes of prevention, the syndic also regularly publishes articles concerning different judgments, as well as information items on ethical obligations in Le Collège, the order’s quarterly magazine.
Follow-up on requests for information and inquiry into the professional practice of a physician
The syndic of the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) must respond to requests for information of any kind. Every year, he receives close to 2000 requests for an inquiry from the public, health professionals, hospital centres and, on occasion, members of the CMQ.
The syndic interviews approximately 200 physicians a year. When deemed necessary, he also meets with health professionals, hospital personnel or any other person who can provide relevant information. In this case, professional secrecy cannot be used to hinder the syndic’s work: the obligation to give him answers and to furnish a document applies not only to physicians, hospital personnel and patients, but to any person concerned. He is then in a position to opt for one of the following solutions:
- if it is not justified: closure of the file with no further measures;
- non-disciplinary measures;
- the lodging of a complaint with the Disciplinary Council.
Given the fact that discipline is not always the best solution for the protection of the public, certain alternative measures are often contemplated:
- transfer of the file to the Practice Enhancement Division;
- the ordering of refresher-training periods;
- voluntary restriction of practice;
- referral to the Québec Assistance Program for Physicians;
- the sending of remarks and recommendations as an incentive to the physician concerned;
- voluntary registration of the physician’s name on the list restricting medication prescription;
- cessation of practice by the physician.
In certain particular cases, the Professional Code (section 48) provides that:
"The board of directors of an order may order the medical examination of a person who is a member of such order or who applies for entry on the roll where it has reason to believe his physical or mental condition is incompatible with the practice of his profession."
Lodging a Complaint with the Disciplinary Council
In cases of serious offence where there is sufficient available evidence, the syndic may lodge a complaint with the Disciplinary Council. Close to 3% of files are brought annually before the Disciplinary Council of the Collège. When the syndic decides against lodging a complaint before this body, the complainant may seek advice from the Review Committee in the 30 days following its reception.