News Release Archive

  A new Medical Act for Nova Scotia introduced in the
  legislature today aims to reinforce the quality of patient
  care, said Health Minister Ron Stewart.
  "The act sets standards appropriate for now and for the
  future," said Dr. Stewart. "It is a progressive piece of
  legislation to help ensure that physicians provide safe
  care, quality care and appropriate care."
  Under the act, the Provincial Medical Board will be replaced
  by a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. The
  new college inherits the mandate of the medical board to
  license and discipline physicians, and expands on that
  Every physician in the province must be a member of the
  college. The college regulates the practice of medicine in
  the province and governs it members accordingly. Objectives
  of the college include establishing, maintaining and
  developing standards of knowledge, skill, professional
  ethics and qualifications among physicians.
  A 15-member council will be the governing body of the
  College of Physicians and Surgeons. Five members, or
  one-third of the council, will be lay members. Physician
  members of the council will be elected by their peers in the
  Also under the act, physicians will be required for the
  first time to submit to peer review of their practices. Such
  reviews are consistent with what is permitted by legislation
  in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Ontario.
  The Atlantic Peer Assessment Committee, an interprovincial
  body already operating in New Brunswick and Prince Edward
  Island, is expected to oversee the mandatory assessments. In
  the past, assessments of physicians were voluntary.
  Assessments will occur on a random basis and will
  concentrate initially on family physicians. Persons
  conducting the assessments will include physicians from
  other Maritime provinces.
  Serious problems become complaints to be handled by the
  college. Peer review was agreed to in principle in the
  spring agreement between the Department of Health and the
  Medical Society of Nova Scotia.
  Overall, the investigation process for addressing complaints
  has been simplified and modernized in the act. The powers of
  investigators and the procedures to be followed in
  investigations and hearings are clearly spelled out. At each
  level, there must be lay representation. Provisions are
  possible to protect the privacy of complainants, such as
  imposing publication bans and closing hearings.
  Under the act, complaints against a physician can be
  initiated by anyone. A newly-created investigation committee
  of the college will examine complaints and determine how to
  proceed. The five-person committee will be made up of
  physicians and members of the council, including at least
  one lay person. The committee may:
  - dismiss the complaint;
  - attempt to resolve the matter informally;
  - with the consent of both parties, refer the matter in   
  whole or in part for mediation, reprimand the physician
    or require the physician to undergo treatment or   
  - depending on the findings, refer the complaint to a   
  hearing committee which has the power to conduct a full   
  Patient records kept in a physician's office will be
  safeguarded under the new act in the event they are
  abandoned. The new act empowers the college to step in and
  protect the records for the first time. Patients can then
  receive copies of their records.
  Dr. Stewart also tabled an act today that permits
  physicians to incorporate. The legislation, which permits
  physicians to arrange their affairs in a normal,
  business-like manner, is similar to legislation that allows
  other professionals, such as dentists and accountants, to
  incorporate. Incorporation does not protect a physician from
  professional liability and does not affect the relationship
  between physician and patient.
  The Minister also tabled the Medical Society Act
  which updates the original act first created in the 1860's.
  The updated act recognizes the evolving relationship between
  the Medical Society of Nova Scotia and the Department of
  Medical Act
  What is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova
  The College is the licensing and disciplinary body for all
  physicians in the province and expands on the mandate of its
  predecessor, the Provincial Medical Board.
  To serve and protect the public interest, the College
  regulates the practice of medicine in the province and
  develops sound standards of practice. A council administers
  the overall affairs of the College. The council may being
  forward regulations covering matters such as continuing
  medical education requirements for physicians, the reporting
  and publication of disciplinary decisions and the peer
  assessment program.
  The 15-member is made up of eight physicians elected by
  their peers, a physician appointed by the Dean of the
  Medical School, a physician appointed by the Medical Society
  of Nova Scotia at its general meeting and five people lay
  people appointed by government. Council members serve for a
  staggered number of years.
  Why include peer review in the Medical Act?
  Peer review is an important tool to help ensure quality care
  is being delivered to Nova Scotians. In the peer review
  process, physicians will examine the practices of their
  peers. Peer review is a detailed check of physician
  practice. If a serious problem is found, the matter is
  turned over to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
  If I have a complaint, what's new?
  Processing a complaint follows a logical, step-by-step
  process. An Investigation Committee looks at complaints
  against a physician. The committee has the power to do a
  number of things, such as recommend mediation, dismiss the
  complaint, or warn the physician. Complaints may also be
  referred on to a Hearing Committee for a full-scale
  examination. At each level, there is lay representation.
  What about patient records?
  In the past, when a physician left a practice, there was no
  law to say what should happen to the patient records kept in
  office files. Records could be abandoned. The new Act
  protects patient records by empowering the provincial
  College of Physicians and Surgeons to step in.
  Contact: Lori MacLean  902-424-5025
  trp                      Dec. 06, 1995