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College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

Regulating MDs:  The Complaint Process, Discipline,
and Screening for Fitness to Practice

CPSBC Disclosure Policy

The official disciplinary documents are released to the public by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. Journalists are reminded that documents should always be referenced in their entirety, and names and locations should be detailed in full.

Consent to Ongoing Criminal Record Checks

The B.C. Government enacted the Criminal Records Review Act which made a criminal record check mandatory for individuals who work with children, or who may have unsupervised access to children, in the ordinary course of their employment or in the practice of an occupation. As such, the legislation covers physicians.

Anyone registering for a license to practice medicine in B.C. must authorize a criminal record search. This applies to medical students and established doctors. The written authorization must be renewed every five years. At these 5-year intervals, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. sends a list of registrants to the Criminal Records Review Program operated by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The Program arranges the criminal record check.

For a given physician, two outcomes are possible:

  1. No relevant records are found.
  2. A relevant record does turn up. The Program's Deputy Registrar then determines whether the record indicates a risk to children. If yes, the College is required to consider this data when reviewing the doctor's license status. A list of relevant offences is set out in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Records Review Act.

Health Record Privacy and Amendment

Provincial and Federal Legislation

PIPEDA Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
This privacy law covers private-sector commercial organizations, including medical clinics and physicians in private practice.
Privacy Act Privacy Act
This privacy law relates to an individual's right to access and correct personal information the Government of Canada holds about them.
HIPA Health Information Protection Act
This legislation, locally enacted by each province, governs the trustees of health records.

The federal PIPEDA law governs private-sector organizations engaged in commercial activities across Canada. It sets down clear rules for how these organizations may collect, use, or disclose personal information, and guarantees concrete avenues for amending flawed information. PIPEDA applies to medical clinics and physicians in private practice.

Some provinces have HIPA legislation that, on inspection, is deemed substantially similar to the health-records subset of PIPEDA.  An organization that operates solely within such a province will be exempt from PIPEDA, unless the personal information crosses provincial or national borders.

But more than half the provinces and territories have HIPA legislation which is not substantially similar to PIPEDA. In such provinces, an application to PIPEDA may succeed.

British Columbia is a compliant province – its local HIPA legislation offers a pragmatic protection for health records that is deemed substantially similar to PIPEDA. Compliance oversight belongs to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Georgena S. Sil
Saskatoon, Canada
Physicist & Technical Writer
Alumnus: University of British Columbia

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