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Practise With Confidence

What is the CMPA?

The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) provides professional liability protection for physicians in Canada. This includes advice and assistance when facing regulatory authority (College) complaints, hospital privilege matters, civil actions, and other types of medical-legal difficulties. The CMPA also provides, on behalf of its members, appropriate compensation to patients proven to have been harmed through negligent medical care of a member.

As well, the CMPA contributes to high quality healthcare through its research and education offerings. Member physicians benefit from risk management publications, exclusive educational events, and online resources such as the CMPA Good Practices Guide and the official magazine of the CMPA titled CMPA Perspective.

The CMPA is a not-for-profit, mutual defence association, founded in 1901 by physicians who sought to support their physician colleagues. It is governed by an elected council of practising physicians representing the various geographical areas of Canada and different clinical practices. Legal expertise is provided by an independent general counsel and legal firms in each province.

Do residents need CMPA membership?

CMPA coverage is mandatory as per Article 18.02 of the Resident Doctors of BC Collective Agreement. Medical residents in British Columbia must obtain liability protection before they can be licensed to practise in the province, and this protection can be obtained by becoming a member of the CMPA.

Applying for membership

CMPA membership for residents is typically based on the academic year, July to June. To apply, visit the CMPA website at www.cmpa-acpm.ca/how-to-apply and complete the membership application form. Payment of membership fees for the academic year is due July 1. If you have missed the deadline, complete the application form and someone from the CMPA team will contact you to assist with backdating your membership.

Once you are a member, the CMPA will provide you with proof of membership which may be required by your learning institution.

How much are membership fees?

The membership fee amount differs for each member, depending on the type of work you perform and the region of Canada in which you are working or are registered in a training program. The 2016 Fee Schedule lists the fees for the current year. Please visit the CMPA website at www.cmpa-acpm.ca/trainees/clinical-fellows for more details, or contact the CMPA at 1-800-267-6522 to determine the fee that applies to you.

Membership fees, along with investment income, provides the CMPA with revenue to meet its future financial obligations resulting from care provided during the given fee year. Compensation to patients, along with the cost of legal services and expert consultant costs in support of members accounted for 84% of the CMPA’s annual expenditures in 2015.

How does the CMPA provide assistance?

Unlike an insurance company, the CMPA employs a discretionary approach in its assistance to members. This enables the Association to consider whether or not members are eligible for assistance and the scope of such assistance on a case-by-case basis, tailored to meet the needs of individual members and their specific circumstances. Discretion allows the flexibility to expand the service provided to members, rather than deny assistance on the basis of defined policies.

CMPA membership includes occurrence-based assistance, which means a member’s protection extends from the date care was provided, irrespective of when a complaint or legal action is made. Occurrence-based assistance is important because some medical-legal actions may be initiated many years after care was provided — even when the physician is not practising and is no longer a member.

Another interesting feature of CMPA membership is that members collectively share the risks and costs of medical-legal support among themselves, while benefiting from membership in a mutual defence association. Mutuality encompasses both the CMPA’s responsibility to individual members and members’ responsibility to their colleagues and the mutual as a whole. Mutuality fosters a medical liability system that is effective, sustainable, fair, and focused on delivering safe medical care to Canadians.

When difficulties arise in a physician’s practice, such as being notified of a complaint or legal action, members are encouraged to contact the CMPA as soon as possible for advice and, if necessary, legal assistance. Members are promptly connected with a physician advisor, a medical doctor with significant expertise in assisting members with their medical-legal issues and who understands the stressful situations physicians sometimes face.

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author: Melissa Nilan