Extensive consultation leads to two new practice standards on boundaries

The worldwide #MeToo movement brought to light a much-needed conversation about the intersection of sexual misconduct and power, and with it, an indisputable need for change. In addition, recent high-profile cases have demonstrated clearly that sexual misconduct by physicians is occurring, representing the most egregious abuse of power and violation of public trust. 

These events motivated the College to look critically at its complaints processes and practice standards to ensure both are supportive of patients, and that requirements set out for registrants are clear and effective. 

The review process for developing the new practice standards included multiple steps and spanned over a ten-month period. After initial research (including a literature review and environmental scan) conducted in January 2020, a preliminary consultation was held with key patient advocacy groups to identify appropriate tone and language. The draft standards were reviewed and revised by the Patient Relations, Professional Standards and Ethics Committee, then shared for broader consultation with registrants, the public and health partners including the Ministry of Health, the Canadian Medical Protective Association, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice, and external legal counsel. 

Feedback from the consultation process led to the development of two new practice standards: Sexual Misconduct and Non-sexual Boundary Violations. The two new standards have replaced the College’s previous Boundary Violations practice standard. By identifying requirements in two distinct contexts, the College can clarify expectations and emphasize its zero tolerance for sexual misconduct in the patient-registrant relationship. 

Learn more about the consultation process and the new practice standards in the video below (three minutes).

An accompanying patient education resource has also been published.

The College thanks all those who provided their feedback and is confident that the new practice standards and patient resource reflect a wide range of stakeholder views, are inclusive of the patient voice, and will effectively protect patients.