Update on requirement for contingency planning

January 3, 2022

Doctors of BC has been hearing from members who have follow-questions about the message from the College of Physicians and Surgeons regarding the need for contingency planning in the event of an unexpected absence.

We have touched base with the College to better understand and, as appropriate, clarify the message so that doctors are aware of exactly what is and is not required. Here are some key points:

  • Doctors are not required to make a long-term plan for the care of their patients in the event of sudden inability to practice. This is for an acute period, not for the long-term. Doctors are also not responsible for ensuring that patients have a permanent patient medical home and/or family doctor. 
  • The College is asking doctors (especially those in solo practice) to make arrangements for the short-term that will ensure patients are still able to get timely lab/test results or urgent access to care, that an MOA is in the office to answer patients questions, and that someone has access to computer passwords.  
  • For those in group practices, this will be relatively easy. Physicians in group practices should ensure that they have had conversations with their colleagues so that they can help to meet emergency needs of patients and ensure lab test results get to patients in the event of a sudden absence. If you have done this, then you can note in the Annual Licence Renewal Form form that you have completed this. 
  • Solo practitioners will need to ensure they have something in place with a colleague or several colleagues to address potential gaps for the short-term. They may wish to have something in writing, however, there is no expectation that an agreement is in writing, nor is there an expectation for a legal contract. 
  • Physicians are asked to confirm in their Annual Licence Renewal Form that they have had these discussions and have a plan in place. Again, they are not required to provide a written plan.