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News Release

Family Physicians Group Encourages Unethical Behaviour in its Members

January 16, 1995

The President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians is encouraging family doctors to take its battle with the provincial government into their offices. The College of Family Physicians opposes the Ontario government's plans to increase the role of nurse practitioners in health care delivery in Ontario. Dr. Marilyn Spruyt, the College President, has suggested that her members should lobby patients who come to them for health care and encourage these patients to support the College's opposition to the government's plans regarding nurse practitioners.

In a recent letter to the entire College membership, Dr. Spruyt states that "what is required is a concerted effort aimed at educating health care consumers, our patients, so they can voice their concerns" about Nurse Practitioners. "We appreciate that this is not an easy issue to discuss in the context of an office visit", she continues. "At the same time, based on feedback from our members, we believe that the patient/physician relationship is the key to 'mobilizing' the public on this issue."

Patients consult physicians when they are ill, and often frightened. Patients are dependent on their doctors, and vulnerable. They need to believe in their doctors' wisdom and integrity. For physicians to use the patient/physician interaction as a forum for political lobbying is a breach of trust. Dr. Spruyt is right that family physicians have considerable credibility with their patients. If they use this credibility to serve their own political interests with patients seeking health care, they will discredit the profession, and deepen patients' mistrust of physicians.

The Medical Reform Group condemns Dr. Spruyt's attempt to use patients in the College's political battle with the government. The Medical Reform Group believes that nurse practitioners, working in collaborative teams with physicians, can contribute to health care in Ontario. Whether or not they agree with our position or that of the College, the Medical Reform Group calls on family physicians to resist the temptation to intrude political issues into the doctor-patient relationship.


Gordon Guyatt, M.D. (905) 525-9140 x22160
Rosana Pellizzari, M.D. (416) 658-6812
Mimi Divinsky, M.D. (416) 964-2993

Medical Reform Group of Ontario

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