Saving Polly: Can Professional Self-regulation Play an Ongoing Role in the Delivery of Medical Care?
In the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twentyfirst, there has been widespread recognition that the self-regulation of the medical profession has been faltering, and the reactions to this perception of governments and professional bodies have begun to take effect. The recognition of failure of selfregulation in general is dramatically described by H.W. Arthurs, former Superior Court Justice, Province of Ontario, when, quoting Monty Python’s famous Dead Parrot skit, he concluded:
As health care is increasingly viewed as a societal right, governments and other health system owners or managers have encroached upon the traditional autonomy of medical professionals in the delivery of their defined services. In addition, legal authorities have come increasingly close to substituting their own judgments over those traditionally exercised by professionals when acting within their scope of expertise. Finally, the element of public trust in the profession, which is the cornerstone for the maintenance of professional self-regulation, has declined, and the expression ‘Trust me, I’m a Doctor’ is now used only in jest.