Lakeridge Health creates a policy for complementary therapies and other services

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Patients at Lakeridge Health, similar to patients at other hospitals, sometimes wish to obtain private health services provided by complementary or other service providers. In response to these requests, and after nearly two years in development, Lakeridge Health has created a policy that allows us to meet these requests while protecting both the hospital and private health providers involved.

Like many hospitals across Ontario, “Lakeridge Health does not offer complementary therapies as part of our service delivery to patients, nor do we provide referral information to Private Health Providers who provide complementary or other therapies,” says Angela Chan, Director of Professional Practice Program for Lakeridge Health. “However, we acknowledge that our patients, while admitted to the hospital, may wish to obtain the services of a Private Health Provider.”

So, how does one define a Private Health Provider? At Lakeridge Health, a Private Health Provider is a person who is privately contracted by a patient or his/her substitute decision-maker to provide complementary or other health services. Examples of complementary therapies or private health services include: therapeutic touch, meditation, art or music therapy, aromatherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, reflexology, spiritual healing and more.

At present, Lakeridge Health allows Private Health Providers to practice within the hospital, but only when specific circumstances have been met. For example: A patient may request a “sweet grass” ceremony as part of his/her cultural beliefs or receive acupuncture during labour.

Under the new policy, Private Health Providers can continue to practice within the hospital once agreement forms are signed by the patient and the Private Health Provider. “Our policy was created to provide clarity and a defined process,” says Chan. “With the increasing number of requests and better informed patients, we realized that a policy was needed.”

After identifying the issues at Professional Practice Council, a multidisciplinary workgroup was formed to develop the policy and procedure. After extensive research that involved exploring the internet, reviewing the literature and consulting with peer hospitals, a draft policy and procedure was developed.

This draft policy was further refined based on input from our legal counsel, Risk Management, Quality Program, Human Resources Department, Occupational Health and Safety, clinical councils, internal leaders and staff, Medical Advisory Council, HIROC and Canadian Medical Protection Association, etc. It details the guidelines and restrictions that must be met before a Private Health Provider can gain access to a patient while under Lakeridge Health’s care. Associated with this policy are the following information booklets to provide clarity to the process: ‘How to Make a Request for a Private Health Provider’, ‘Information for Private Health Providers’ and ‘Information on Complementary Therapies’.

The end result is a document that respects patients’ wishes and requests, while ensuring informed consent and minimized risk to the patient, Hospital Corporation, its privileged staff and employees.