Dr. Steven Lapointe, Syndic
Director of Inquiries
Every year, the Inquiries Division of the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) receives numerous requests for information regarding the professional practice of physicians from patients, their family members, physicians, institutions and coroners.
To fulfil its mission, which is to promote quality medicine at the service of the public, the CMQ has adopted regulations, in particular a code of ethics. To ensure these regulations are applied, the Collège relies on the intervention of a syndic and ten assistant syndics to conduct inquiries as well as the services of two counsellors. It also retains the services of an investigator in order to protect the public against the actions of any person who engages in medical activities by the illegal use of the title of physician or by claiming to be authorized to practice the medical profession.
The Inquiries Division uses various means to help physicians practice their profession in accordance with their regulatory and ethical requirements: many cases are settled by means of various interventions, such as providing assistance or information to the person who made the request. Questions of an ethical or regulatory nature may be submitted for discussion and advice. These questions may, for instance, relate to situations involving confidentiality, the limits of the physician-patient relationship, a physician’s departure from a clinic, retirement, advertising, a potential conflict of interests or access to a record. We hope that physicians who have used this service were given support and advice that may have prevented a situation from worsening. Many of the requests submitted to the Inquiries Division could be avoided if communication were better between physicians and their patients or their family members or if physicians were more conversant with the laws and regulations.
For most requests that lead to an inquiry, the problems described are often resolved using the following measures: comments or recommendations are sent to the physician concerned as an incentive; the physician’s practice is assessed by the Practice Enhancement Division; the physician agrees to undergo a period of assessment or complete a training period; the physician voluntarily restricts his/her practice; the physician is referred to the Assistance Program for Québec Physicians for physical or mental health problems; the physician voluntarily enters his/her name on the restricted prescribing list; the physician ceases to practice. However, if alternatives to disciplinary measures prove insufficient or inappropriate, more severe action must be taken.
You can contact the staff of the Inquiries Division from Monday to Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and on Friday, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.