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Message from the Registrar – Physician Obligations to See Patients in Person

These are extraordinary times. We commend physicians for their service and flexibility as we move through the pandemic. 

Across the province, primary care physicians are providing both virtual and in-person care. Physicians have developed office systems to pre-screen and sequester potentially COVID-19 infectious patients. They are practicing safely and effectively, accessing the supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available through the NSH.  

Physicians must not restrict in-person care to only those patients who have been vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test result.

Physicians and the public have contacted the College seeking guidance regarding virtual and in-person care. The College has posted the following direction on its website which includes FAQs: 

Physicians must not restrict in-person care to only those patients who have been vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test result. Physicians cannot require documented proof that a patient has been vaccinated as a prerequisite for attending their office. However, it is reasonable for a physician to request that patients report their vaccine status to them.  

This is a stressful time in our healthcare system; nerves are frayed with overcrowded ERs, extended ambulance offload times, and physicians, nurses and all frontline healthcare providers are strained and exhausted.  

I have been reaching out and phoning physicians one-on-one to address their concerns and clarify their obligations regarding seeing patients in person. When appropriate we hope to avoid investigating such matters by way of the complaint process and aim to resolve such patient safety issues quickly and effectively for the benefit of all.