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Government passes buck for private clinic infections

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has refused the suggestion by a health expert that the province should take on responsibility for overseeing private clinics. Her comments to the Ottawa Citizen follow the disclosure that 6,800 patients would have to be notified that faulty infection control procedures at a private clinic in Ottawa could have exposed them to HIV or hepatitis.

 Matthews said she was not planning on taking over that responsibility through her ministry, the Citizen reports. "Government can't do everything.  A professional (regulating body) like the College of Physicians and Surgeons, they take responsibility for their members."

 "At this point I am delighted the College is taking that responsibility seriously and has found a problem that we need to fix." 

The Citizen reports that roughly 270 private clinics in Ontario exist without being subject to the same sanitation and infection-control standards as hospitals.  However, following the 2007 death of a Toronto woman during a botched liposuction operation, the province ordered regular inspections of those clinics by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario beginning in September 2010.

The doctors' association, the Ontario Medical Association, has vigorously lobbied for the expansion of private clinics ("Independent Health Facilities"), and the private clinics have received large funding increases from the Liberal government over the last eight years.   

So this appears to be the story so far: the docs lobby to move surgical and diagnostics work from the hospitals, the government (quietly) agrees and lets the emerging industry skip the public oversight faced by hospitals.  Subsequently, after a death (and coroners report), the government eventually requires the industry to face some regulation -- not by the public authority, but self-regulation by the docs  (who had lobbied to expand the industry).



  1. Sounds like the fox and the old hen house story.



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