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Emergency order empowers hospitals in credentialing process

Author(s): Paula Trattner, Aislinn E. Reid, Hannah Kingdom

May 5, 2020

For further information on the changes below or other health matters, please contact one of the authors above or any member of our Health Industry Group.

An emergency order made on May 1, 2020 (the “Order”) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (the “EMCPA”) empowers Ontario hospitals in managing their professional staff credentialing processes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to the Order, Ontario hospitals may take “any reasonably necessary measure” with respect to “any aspect of the hospital’s credentialing process” in order to “respond to, prevent and alleviate the outbreak of the coronavirus.” The Order provides additional flexibility to hospitals in credentialing, enabling them to respond nimbly to burdensome and changing staffing needs.

The Order provides a non-exhaustive list of measures that the board of a hospital, or any of the hospital’s authorized officers, may take if reasonably necessary, including:

  • appointing a physician, dentist, midwife or extended class nurse to any department and determining the nature and scope of privileges assigned to them; and
  • reappointing, continuing or extending the appointment of any member of the medical, dental, midwifery or extended class nursing staff.

Hospitals can take these measures despite any “credentialing process” that would otherwise be required pursuant to the Public Hospitals Act (the “PHA”) and the hospital’s by-laws.

For example, hospitals may continue the appointment of physician staff members for a period longer than the one year set out under s. 37 (2) of the PHA, enabling them to focus administrative resources that would otherwise be required for the annual reappointment process on matters related to COVID-19.

The Order was made after the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Medical Association jointly wrote in early April to Christine Elliott, the Minister of Health, to identify key hospital administrative processes that could be simplified and expedited to facilitate responsiveness to COVID-19.