Courtesy Calls

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Simple process to flag low-risk concerns sees reduction in investigations

CPSO’s adoption of a simple process that allows us to flag low-risk issues of concern to physicians appears to correlate with a reduction in the number of investigations, a preliminary review found. 

In early 2020, we began making courtesy calls to physicians when we received a low-risk, non-clinical concern from a patient. In 2020, the College made 1,057 courtesy calls to physicians, addressing  nearly 1,800 concerns. More than half of all courtesy calls were prompted by concerns about a communication failure, medical record issue, inability to contact the doctor and/or office staff issue. A review of 2020 data (see chart) finds our use of courtesy calls to respond to these concerns may be linked to a decrease in the number of investigations compared to the previous year.  

In its first year of operation, both doctors and patients signaled their appreciation of the personal touch of these calls, and how they prevented minor issues from escalating into formal complaints and investigations by CPSO. This, in turn, frees up our resources to tackle higher-risk concerns — a win-win for everyone, and for public safety.  

Jill Thornton, supervisor of the Patient Help Centre, said the overwhelming majority of physicians have been gracious in her conversations with them. “They just appreciate that the concern is being flagged for them in a professional but low-key manner, which allows them to easily rectify the issue.”   This proportionate response to patients’ concerns aligns with our right-touch regulation approach.

TopicNumber of Courtesy Calls% of All Courtesy Calls% Decrease in Complaints in 2020
Medical Records (e.g. inability to access, transfer to another provider)34619.4%37%
Inability to contact physician21111.8%Not available
Concerns about office staff1126.3%15%