The Physician’s Obligations under Certain Laws

Highway Safety Code

Under review

Under the Highway Safety Code the physician has a discretionary obligation to report to the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) the state of health of a patient he or she deems unfit to drive a road vehicle. In this situation, it is advisable that the physician speaks to the patient  and give an opinion on his or her state of health and the risk it represents when driving. But if the physician has reason to believe that the patient will not obey the interdiction to drive and presents a serious risk to public safety when driving a vehicle, he or she may inform the SAAQ of such.

Note that this type of reporting constitutes a legally authorized departure from the rules for professional secrecy; as a result,  the physician need not obtain the patient’s permission. What is more, the law protects against legal action for damages for having reported the situation.

The Regulation respecting medical and optometrical standards for driving a road vehicle and respecting conditions attached to a license establishes the medical and optometrical standards used in Québec to determine a driver’s fitness to drive and the restrictions necessary given the driver’s state of health. When there is doubt about a patient’s ability to drive a road vehicle, the physician may recommend that the patient undergo a thorough assessment of his or her ability.

The SAAQ publishes a Guide to Drivers’ Medical and Optometric Assessment in Québec, which may be downloaded (PDF format) from its website. The Collège has also produced a guide in this regard, entitled L’Évaluation médicale de l’aptitude à conduire un véhicule automobile: guide d’exercice. (March 2007).

2011-04-04