OATA ADVISORY ON ONTARIO GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DEALING WITH
MASKS AND PATIENT VACCINATION STATUS (MARCH 18, 2022)
OATA MEMBERS EMERGING FROM PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS
Now til April 27 | After April 27
Members have asked the OATA how to deal with patients who refuse to wear a mask, who refuse to disclose their vaccination status, or are unvaccinated or who are only partially-vaccinated.
Wearing masks continues to be a legal requirement in Ontario until at least April 27 * in hospitals, schools, long-term and other congregate care homes, home care and in healthcare settings, including AT practices and clinics.
Masks in gyms are not required as of March 21*. Individual Public Health Units may extend mask mandates and other requirements for longer periods, so Members are advised to check on local obligations. Bear in mind that patients sometimes have legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask or being vaccinated and are therefore exempted from those requirements.
The OATA has prepared the following Advisory that is based on the advice given to their registrants by other health professional regulatory Colleges, adapted to AT practice realities:
Members: Practitioners and staff should wear masks at all times in the clinic or practice. ATs who are registrants of a regulatory College must abide by the College's requirements.
Please Note: These dates may be subject to change
Note to Readers
The OATA Advisory does NOT say that OATA members cannot decline to treat a patient who refuses to wear a mask, is unvaccinated, is not fully vaccinated or refuses to disclose vaccination status. The distinction is the difference between decline and deny. Ontario law says a regulated health care practitioner cannot DENY treatment so if unable to treat or unwilling to treat for personal or clinic policy reasons, you must refer the patient to another practitioner so treatment is not denied.
The caution is being shared because OATA wants members practising to the standards of peer professions that are regulated. The way to avoid a difficult situation with a non-compliant patient is to convey your treatment policy around PPE in advance of a scheduled appointment. Be sure anyone booking to attend the clinic or present for treatment is fully aware of the policy and be prepared to refer any for whom wearing a mask is not their preference. This clearly leaves the decision to be made by individual members in light of individual circumstances.
What is required is that if you decide not to treat a patient, you must arrange for a referral. I can assure you that no OATA member would be subject to discipline for deciding not to treat a patient in these circumstances.
As stated in the Advisory, the OATA Advisory is consistent with what the College of Physiotherapists and other Colleges who regulate peer professions have advised their members.