Dialogue Volume 14 Issue 2 2018 - Page 23

LEGISLATION Legislation defines patient for purposes of sexual abuse Several other new amendments now in force as of May 1 T he Protecting Patients Act is an important piece of legislation for patients and for all colleges who regulate Ontario’s health professions in the public interest. Its aim is to strengthen the sexual abuse and transparency provisions in the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA), and change how we move forward in the complaints, investigation and discipline processes. On May 1, 2018 a number of amendments to the RHPA were brought into force. Also, three sets of reg- ulations were enacted. In particular, physicians should be aware of significant changes to the length of time an individual will be a patient and that sexual relation- ships within this context will be subject to mandatory revocation. This is addressed in detail below, in addi- tion to other new provisions. Definition of Patient for the Purposes of Sexual Abuse For the purposes of sexual abuse, under the Regulated Health Professions Act, a person will be considered to be a patient for a year after the termination of the doctor-patient relationship. This means that any physician who engages in a sexual relationship with a patient within one year of the termination of the doctor-patient relationship is subject to mandatory revocation. A statutory definition of a patient for the purposes of the sexual abuse provisions in the Health Professions Procedural Code has been created to extend their status as a patient by one year after it would otherwise have ended. This period can be extended further by a col- lege which can make regulation on the subject. (Please note – this College supports developing a regulation that would extend the physician-patient relationship five years beyond termination where the relationship has involved psychotherapy. See Reports from Coun- cil on page 17). Until now, the Discipline Committee considered a person to be a patient of the member on the basis of a number of factors that were considered in the context of the specific circumstances of each case. That will continue to be the case. In addition, the new regula- tion expands that definition, for the purposes of the sexual abuse provisions to also include any one of the following: o A person who received health-care services from the member and payment is charged or received, o An entry is made by the member to the health record for the person, o The person has provided consent to a health-care service recommended by the member, or ISSUE 2, 2018 DIALOGUE 23