Developing Professional Standards

A group of doctors seated a table with paperwork and a laptop
Stethoscope laying on a desk next to a pair of glasses

Supporting Patient Safety

Nova Scotians expect safe, high-quality medical care from their physicians. The College supports patient safety by setting professional standards that clarify our regulatory expectations and give direction to physicians in practice. These standards also serve a public purpose. When Nova Scotians seek medical care, they are entitled to expect the care and conduct of the physician will adhere to professional standards of practice.

Public safety is the core principle that guides the development of professional standards. The work is led by the Professional Standards Committee, composed of public members of Council and practising physicians. The committee’s work is informed by consultation with diverse stakeholders, including Doctors Nova Scotia and the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

Professional Standards

Along with the Canadian Medical Association’s Code of Ethics and Professionalism, the professional standards establish the minimum expectations of physicians. The standards provide a lens by which to examine physician conduct and, as such, are often referenced in the College investigation of complaints and disciplinary hearing processes.

It is incumbent on physicians to stay familiar with the catalogue of standards and guidelines, which are maintained on the College’s website.

The College is legislated to regulate medicine through the lens of public safety. At the core of this work is the development of standards of practice for the profession.

The public members and physicians that comprise the Professional Standards Committee lead this important work which is informed by diverse stakeholder consultations.

Ms. Michele Brennan
Chair, Professional Standards Committee

Continual Review

Because professional standards are in place to protect patients, the committee regularly revisits its standards and guidelines to ensure they remain relevant and are kept current with the ongoing changes in medicine.

In the coming year, the committee will continue to review issues such as virtual care, medical record management, and physician obligations to provide services.

The College wishes to recognize the many physicians from a broad range of organizations that offered their expertise in reviewing standards. Their valuable feedback served to inform the guidance provided to the profession.

We also gratefully acknowledge the leadership of the physicians and public members on the committee for their diligent deliberations. 

The College engaged many in the development and review of professional standards and guidelines. Standards regularly monitored throughout 2022 included:

Professional Standards Regarding Virtual Care

Professional Standard Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying

The following new professional standards were approved by the College’s Council in 2022 and are available on the College website.

Professional Standards Regarding Benzodiazepines and Z-Drugs

Professional Standards Regarding Obligations for Services for Patients