Following public consultation, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (the College) updated its policy on Physician Behaviour in the Professional Environment in May 2016. This policy sets out the College’s expectation that physicians working in a professional capacity act in a respectful, courteous and civil manner towards their patients, colleagues and others involved in the provision of health care and not engage in unprofessional and/or disruptive behaviour. In essence, the amendments to the policy clarify and simplify, but do not alter, existing principles and expectations. In this blog post, we review what has specifically changed in the most recent version of the policy and, in doing so, aim to provide a reminder to physicians of their responsibilities in the workplace.
The policy slightly amends the definition of “disruptive behaviour,” which now provides that behaviour, such as the use of inappropriate words or actions and inactions, will be considered disruptive when it interferes with a physician’s ability to collaborate, or may interfere with the delivery of quality health care or with the safety or perceived safety of others. Previously, patient safety was not specifically included as a factor to consider. The new policy, however, makes reference to recent literature that shows that disruptive behaviour can have negative impacts on both the delivery of quality health care and patient safety and outcomes by eroding effective communication, collegiality and collaboration that is necessary for good medical practice.
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