Technology advancements have allowed the number of Canadian physicians providing remote care to skyrocket. This is great news for patients, but when faults arise, this can blur the lines as to who is responsible.
The increased usability and adoption of digital tools such as AI, telehealth and remote patient monitoring has been a complete game changer for the healthcare industry. Physicians can treat patients remotely, wherever they are, meaning less time, money, and stress.
Cover for physicians & surgeons by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA)
Physicians providing in-person care to patients residing in Canada are eligible for assistance from the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA); which provides medico-legal advice and assistance.
If eligible for CMPA cover, there are no financial limits to the legal assistance given to members or to the damages paid to patients.
Where the lines blur
However, when conducting digital care, or via telehealth the lines begin to blur as to how the CMPA applies.
The CMPA cover does not generally extend to Canadian physicians residing abroad, and these members have previously found it difficult to find another suitable insurer to provide the professional liability cover they require.
Not having the necessary cover invalidates a member’s practice permit, creating an extremely serious issue.
The CMPA accepts that physicians or patients who are out of the country on a short-term basis need to engage with each other e.g., on holiday or during an emergency. But also states it is not set up to assist with medico-legal problems and legal actions that arise outside of Canada, or that result from care given outside of Canada.
In these situations, where a claim arises out of telehealth care given remotely, the CMPA will consider giving assistance, but on a case-by-case basis.
Non-Canadian residents who receive treatment also have to meet a multitude of criteria before the CMPA cover will respond.
This ambiguous cover leaves practitioners unclear as to the level of cover they have, and the help that is available to them.
Clarity in cover
As technological capabilities extend, exposures can increase, especially when care is given outside a practitioner’s jurisdiction. Healthcare providers will need to protect themselves in the event the CMPA coverage does not apply due to any of the above circumstances.
CFC can help to create peace of mind with the ‘wrap around’ intention of their digital healthcare form that encompasses anything which would traditionally fall outside the CMPA cover, with respect to telehealth. This provides comfort to physicians that wherever, and however, they deliver healthcare services they will be covered.
Understanding exactly when their liability cover will respond, and having confidence in the protection in place, will enable physicians to focus on treating their patients – wherever either party is located.