Open Forum Summary, Mandatory Liability Insurance, Complaints Tip, 2-factor

Open Forum Summary

ACOT’s Council held its latest Open Forum on October 18, 2021, with guest Hélène Sabourin, CEO of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). Hélène described CAOT’s OT month activities, then a round table was held where participants identified current practice issues such as:

  • Ongoing lack of funding for non-profit agencies, resulting in difficulties recruiting staff and fewer front-line workers to support families;
  • Challenges balancing ongoing business and projects with the covid response;
  • Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL) changes affecting operations and practice;
  • Covering multiple schools and sites without flexibility to move between sites, resulting in less on-site practice and more connections with parents than before;
  • Change fatigue, and stress of front line redeployments.

A question was raised regarding reasoning for mandatory liability insurance – please refer to the item below for further information.

Mandatory Liability Insurance

Starting in 2022, ACOT will require all registering OTs to personally hold a minimum of $5 million in professional liability insurance – employer’s insurance coverage will not be sufficient. Most employer-based insurance does not cover the OT for activities outside of work, or for complaints that come straight to ACOT rather than through the employer. This can leave the public and OTs without the benefits that personally held professional liability insurance is intended to provide. ACOT’s mandate is protection of the public, and by requiring all OTs to hold professional liability insurance, we can ensure the public has options in cases where litigation becomes a reality (note this is separate from the College complaints process).

Personally held professional liability insurance for OTs can be purchased through the Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists (SAOT), the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), or through an independent insurance broker.

Stay tuned for further information about the evidence of current insurance that ACOT will be asking for during practice permit renewal in January/February 2022.

Top Causes of Unprofessional Conduct and Tips to Avoid It

Poor communication

Many unprofessional conduct complaints are caused by poor communication between the professional and the patient or between a professional and their colleagues.

What you can do:

Appreciate that part of being a true professional is being a good communicator.

Ask yourself: Are you a really good listener? Could you be a better communicator? Would it be useful to take an effective communication course?

Realize that effective communication is at the heart of the “informed consent” process.

Consider how your remarks are perceived by others. Avoid cavalier or “smart-aleck” comments in the presence of patients. These types of comments tend to startle and alarm patients and may prompt a complaint. Many comments that are appropriate when made only in the presence of colleagues are not appropriate in the presence of patients. “Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public.”

You care about your patients. Do your patients understand that you care? Do your actions and your verbal and non-verbal communication demonstrate that you care? Retain professional distance and demeanour but demonstrate to your patients that you do care. How would you want to be treated if the situation was reversed and you were the patient? What would you expect if the patient was one of your family members? Very few patients file unprofessional conduct complaints about health professionals who they perceived to be caring. Patients who leave a health care facility feeling, “No one cared about me”, are more likely to file complaints.

James T. Casey, Q.C. Field Law

Content from this article has been published with the permission of Field Law, and may be republished only with the consent of Field Law.  “Field Law” is a registered trademark of Field LLP.

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