Some 5000 doctors in Alberta, Canada are to be evaluated on their "knowledge, skills and performance" in a mandatory review procedure.
The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons is carrying out the evaluation every seven to 10 years, although it has not yet decided on the exact form of the evaluation or the penalties to impose on those doctors not found to be competent. One option is compulsory remedial education.
The college is considering methods of evaluating competence, such as examinations for measuring knowledge, office visits to assess skills and patient surveys for gauging performance.
Compulsory evaluation is a break from usual custom in Canada, which evaluates a doctor only when a complaint has been received. Nevertheless, some provinces do carry out random evaluations on a handful of doctors each year.
Medical professionals fear the Alberta initiative could be the "thin end of the wedge". The Federation of Medical Licensing Authorities in Canada is meeting in an attempt to standardize competence testing.