November 14, 2017
The list in Shanon Grauer’s briefcase just keeps getting longer. This specialist in health law, and adjunct professor at IHPME, maintains a document that alphabetically lists all health-related legislation in Ontario and federally. It’s now over five pages. It’s a physical reminder of the ever-present reality in healthcare delivery and administration – regulation is everywhere. “From the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Act and Ambulance Act down to the Voluntary Blood Donation Act, there’s a very wide range of provincial legislation, including those in the regulated professions. On top of that, there are federal healthcare laws. It’s a split jurisdiction.”
Grauer was recently included for the third year in a row in the Canadian edition of Chambers Canada for healthcare. The publication is produced for global markets by UK-based Chambers and Partners. It ranks lawyers and law firms in various areas of law, based on interviews with clients and peers. Three years ago, it added healthcare law as a specialty. Grauer, a partner in McCarthy Tétrault’s business law group, is among a short list of Canadians included in that category.
She points out that broad trends in society are making health law even more relevant to health administrators. “On the litigation side, in addition to malpractice, there is increased attention to health provider obligations in cases involving the right to die, as well as legal issues around consent to treatment,” said Grauer. “Then there is the regulatory side. For example, the long-term care homes that help care for some of the most challenging cases in an aging population are heavily regulated enterprises. Many are under increasing pressure to deliver mandated standards of care and facilities with resources that may not be adequate.”
The “legal underpinning” of healthcare, as Grauer calls it, makes an immediate impression on students in her class. “They have very little idea about the law when they come in, but as health administrators, they will need to understand the impact of law in the healthcare industry. The law underpins much of what we do in health care. As senior leaders, they’ll enter into contracts – so they need to know what is enforceable and unenforceable in contract law. The Broader Public Sector Accountability Act is another example of a law of importance – it governs procurement by hospitals.”
Grauer points out that the legal implications of healthcare delivery seem certain to grow with the adoption of new technologies. “The flip side of new technologies are privacy issues. As more people are cared for in the community, there may be robotics and monitoring equipment in their home – the patient’s right to privacy must be protected. Healthcare providers must ensure their knowledge of legal implications keeps pace with medical progress. The law not only underpins healthcare. The rule of law is fundamental to the civil society that we depend on to support and deliver healthcare.”