LETTER OF THE LAW: Better Oversight for Health Clinics
On Thursday, May 5, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced he plans to implement 12 recommendations to bolster accountability, regulation, quality and safety in the increasing number of non-hospital medical clinics in Ontario.
As Mr. Hoskins stated:
“As the [health] system evolves and patients increasingly receive care outside of hospitals in more accessible community settings, it is important that its oversight and regulation evolve to ensure that patients are protected. Patients deserve a high and consistent level of oversight, transparency and quality, regardless of where they receive care.”
The recommendations being implemented are coming from the recently released report, “Building an Integrated System for Quality Oversight in Ontario’s Non-Hospital Medical Clinics”, prepared by Health Quality Ontario, which advises the Province of Ontario on the quality of health care.
The 46 page report can be read at the following link: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/news/bulletin/2016/docs/hb_20160504.pdf
The genesis of the report and recommendations announced last Thursday are in response to a number of instances that came to light in 2014 of patients suffering serious harm from infections in a pain clinic and in several endoscopy clinics in 2011 and 2012.
One of the pain clinics guilty of treating patients in an unsterile setting was the Rothbart Centre of Pain Care in Toronto. By last report 13 patients were infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria from receiving treatment at the clinic.
As more healthcare services are downloaded out of hospitals and into private clinics we may sadly see more of these kind of stories in the future. If the province is going to continue to reduce funding to our hospitals and not give doctors and healthcare professionals the resources needed to safely and adequately treat patients, more people will be put at risk.
The Rothbart Pain clinic and the three colonoscopy clinics were privately run. The clinics now face multiple lawsuits for the harm caused to the patients.
If the coming regulatory oversight does not result in better safety at these clinics it may be that the lawsuits can cause these private clinics to adopt safer practices.
Kristian Bonn is a personal injury lawyer and partner at Bonn Law. He grew up in Trenton, works in Belleville and Trenton and lives just over the Bay Bridge in Prince Edward County.
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