A New Option in Continuing Professional Development

In 2017, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) announced the launch of Saegis, a new subsidiary offering specialized safety programs and services for physicians, healthcare professionals and institutions, as well as practice management solutions for team-based practices and clinics across Canada.

According to Dr. Hartley Stern, Chief Executive Officer at the CMPA, its members’ medical liability protection and risk reduction needs were changing, and the Association’s services needed to evolve to most effectively support the delivery of safe medical care across the country.

“With Saegis, the CMPA family of organizations offers a continuum of services, resources and solutions to Canadian physicians, healthcare professionals and institutions” explained Dr. Stern. “We believe Saegis will have a long-term, meaningful and positive impact on the safety of the Canadian healthcare system, by providing solutions that influence change at both the individual practitioner and systems level. This will result in fewer patient safety incidents and lower medical liability protection and healthcare system costs.”

Intensive Communications Programs

Because the CMPA and Saegis recognized communication as an important contributor to patient safety and as a significant factor in medical-legal issues facing physicians, two of Saegis’ programs are focused on effective physician-patient and physician-colleague communications skills: Successful Patient Interactions and Effective Team Interactions. The programs are skills-based, full-day workshops designed to have an immediate, direct and positive impact on physicians’ interactions with patients and with other healthcare professionals.

Dr Todd Watkins, the CMPA’s Managing Director of Physician Services, sees the impact of communications first-hand, as leader of a team of physician advisors at the CMPA. “Our figures show that approximately 20% of all our closed cases have some element of communication as a contributing factor in the litigation or complaint. Furthermore, our ability to successfully defend a medical-legal case is reduced when poor communication plays a role. Although technical skills do cause medical-legal issues, communication with either the patient or the healthcare team is by far the most common risk factor leading to errors and unsafe care”.

In addition to offering the one-day courses, Saegis has developed a more intensive three-day clinical communications program that is taught to very small groups and includes highly personalized action plans, coaching and follow up.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Saegis is also involved in efforts to address the opioid crisis through continuing medical education. It has partnered with the University of Toronto to expand a program that helps physicians navigate the complexities of opioid prescribing and reduce the risk of misuse and addiction. The University of Toronto’s existing program, “Safer Opioid Prescribing – A Multimodal Program for Chronic Pain and Opioids” was specifically designed to address educational gaps in chronic pain and opioid prescribing, and is among the first to be compliant with the 2017 Guidelines.

In determining the format of the program, faculty recognized the need to make it accessible to busy physicians, especially those in rural and remote communities that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis. For this reason, the program consists of three webinars held in the evenings and one full-day in-person workshop. To date the workshop has been offered only in the Toronto area but it is being expanded nationally in 2018 through the U of T’s collaboration with Saegis, including sessions in Saskatoon and Edmonton on June 14 and 21, 2018 respectively.

As Dr. Abhimanyu Sud, Academic Director at the University of Toronto explained: “We are facing a national crisis and need to collaborate widely to expand access to evidence-based interventions.”

Helping Leaders Manage Unprofessional Behaviour

Saegis also saw a need among hospital and healthcare team leaders for help dealing with unprofessional behaviour. According to Risk Management in Canadian Healthcare (RMCHC), the number of hospital proceedings involving physicians exhibiting disruptive behaviour increased 87% from 2006 to 2015. Leaders have voiced concerns that they lack the necessary knowledge and skills to know how to handle difficult team members.

With these concerns in mind, Saegis developed a customized program for institutional leaders called Strategies for Managing Unprofessional Behaviour, which was very successfully piloted in a Canadian hospital during November 2017. The program is now offered nationally, on-site at hospitals or institutions to minimize time the away for participants and fit with busy hospital schedules. It is carefully designed to include the development of personal and institutional improvement plans to ensure the program has a lasting impact.

Ongoing New Program Development

According to Dr. Tom Lloyd, Director of the Saegis Safety Institute, Saegis continues to develop new programs, in addition to those described above. “We’ve been carefully examining the needs of physician and healthcare professionals across Canada, and we’re working on several new programs to help them navigate the complexities and challenges they face in the current system. For example, we are just about to launch an operating room safety program.”
Physician healthcare professionals, team leaders and hospital executives interested in learning more about Saegis programs can contact Dr. Lloyd at
tlloyd@saegissolution.ca or 1-833-435-9979.