Regulated health professionals have duty to report racist behaviour in the health care system

Regulated health professionals have duty to report racist behaviour in the health care system

Registrants have a duty to report a registrant if, on reasonable and probable grounds, they believe that the continued practice of a designated health profession by the other person might constitute a danger to the public.

On June 19, 2020, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix announced an investigation into disturbing allegations of racism in BC’s health system. BC Health Regulators (BCHR) members are united in declaring that any racist behaviour among regulated health professionals is unprofessional, harmful to patients, and unacceptable. It contravenes the professional conduct standards to which health professionals are held and constitutes a danger to the public.

We remind all college registrants that under the Health Professions Act they have a duty to report a registrant (of any regulatory college) if, on reasonable and probable grounds, they believe that the continued practice of a designated health profession by the other person might constitute a danger to the public. Traditionally, duty to report notifications have been raised when a registrant’s competence is in question. We wish to remind registrants that unethical and unprofessional conduct can also constitute a danger to the public. We have a collective duty to hold each other accountable for the care we provide, and where there may be danger to the public we serve, report that to authorities including the appropriate college.

BCHR supports the investigation into allegations of a racist game occurring in emergency rooms (ERs) and the prevalence of racist attitudes and actions at a systemic level in our health care system. Colleges with registrants who practise in the province’s ERs have already reached out to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who has been appointed by Minister Dix to lead the investigation.

We anticipate that the Ministry of Health will provide more information about how all British Columbians, including registrants, may contribute to the Turpel-Lafond investigation in the coming weeks.

This important work will run in parallel to our own mandate of addressing complaints about individual health professionals. Each BCHR college has well-established, transparent processes to investigate complaints about the conduct or competence of registrants, and the authority to impose disciplinary measures if warranted.

We also recognize that BC’s health regulators have an important role in supporting changes that can address systemic racism. Health profession regulation supports every person’s right to receive the same access to and quality of health care, regardless of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, and age.

Our shared mandate is to ensure that regulated health professionals deliver qualified, safe, and ethical care to their patients and clients. This includes culturally safe care. These requirements are embedded in our codes of ethics, standards of practice, and other guidelines for health professionals in BC.

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