Unexpected absence

Contingency planning and practice coverage for an unexpected absence

Planning for unexpected absence

Contingency planning in the event of an unexpected absence from practice means that, at minimum, you have considered the following:

  • Who has a set of keys to the office and locked filing cabinets?
  • Who has your password to access electronic files?
  • Who can review diagnostic reports in the short-term to ensure no patient with a serious condition is left untreated?
  • Who has access to the bank account that covers medical office staff wages while records are being transferred to a storage company?

Registrants are expected to have a plan in place for the stewardship of medical records so that patients have access when needed, and a colleague can manage any outstanding or critical lab or diagnostic results.

Although the College strongly encourages registrants to have their contingency plans set out in written agreements with colleagues, and acknowledges this as a best practice, it is not considered mandatory, nor is it a requirement to have a legal contract.

Consider an agreement in writing

The College recommends that registrants identify a trusted colleague or group of colleagues, who can take over their practice if necessary—and that this agreement be made in writing. Not only should the agreement address medical record custodianship, but it should also discuss also who will be responsible for transferring records, following up on tests that have been ordered, and receiving test results at the office or clinic.

Registrants working in solo practice may consider entering into a written agreement with a locum or collaborating with other solo practitioners. Creating plans with medical office staff may also be considered to ensure patients have access to their medical records and can be informed of their options for accessing ongoing care.

Talk to CMPA

Registrants are advised to access appropriate legal counsel before providing medical services in situations where contingency planning has not been clearly addressed.

Listen to the podcast

The CMPA is available to registrants seeking medical legal advice, and has produced this 11-minute podcast on contingency planning as a guiding resource.

Start with the Doctors of BC toolkit

Contingency Planning Toolkit provides clear information and steps on how to:

  • complete a critical record inventory,
  • initiate a communications plan,
  • solidify a personal contingency plan and estate, and more.

Refer to the College practice standards and professional guidelines