How Does BC Weed Out Incompetent Doctors?

I was just catching up on some podcasts, and listened to a fascinating episode of White Coat, Black Art about identifying under-performing medical professionals. From the show’s blog:

What do you call the person who graduates last in med school? It’s a set-up to a joke that is anything but. Of course, you call that person ‘doctor.’ There are incompetent people in every job, and doctors are no exception. We don’t have any good statistics on how many incompetent doctors are currently in practice…

Only two provinces — Nova Scotia and Alberta — have mandatory checks on doctors. Ontario will soon follow, once the province passes enabling regulations.

If I understand the program correctly, there is no mandatory oversight of doctors in BC. That is, unless patients file complaints, a doctor’s competency is never reviewed. I’ve emailed the College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia to confirm that this is correct. I checked around their site, and found the Committee on Office Medical Practice Assessment, which seems to contravene White Coat’s assertion.

Coming from an industry that has semi-annual reviews for everybody, this is a bit shocking. Surely we ought to be extra-rigorous in evaluating the people who keep us alive?

On a related note, I think, in terms of subject matter, White Coat is one of the more original CBC programs I’ve heard in a while.

UPDATE: I got an answer back from the College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia. They say that there is some kind of mandatory oversight for physicians registered with the college, though the details were a bit fuzzy.


  1. I’ve been curious about this as well. A while back my mom forwarded me this link: It reminds me of those ‘assess your professor’ surveys from my university days. It is not the most accurate of surveys and certainly not a good assessment of a practitioner’s competence, but it is an interesting source to see what others think of my doctor.

  2. My brain totally misunderstood your headline. I read it as:

    “How Does ‘BC Weed’ [i.e. marijuana] Out [i.e. reveal] Incompetent Doctors?”

    And damn, I didn’t find out. I know people claim dope has some amazing powers, but revealing medical malpractice isn’t one I’d heard of.

    Be an interesting blog post, though.

  3. They should have a website to blacklist doctors. Currently, CPSO seems not to be cooperating or reporting or covering up – the incompetent doctors in Ontario.

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