Max is a PCP working in Edmonton and one day while looking online for a landscape company, he came across a website called the Plant Paramedics. Since he is a PCP, he knows that ‘paramedic’ is a protected title and this company provides landscaping and planting services. Max is not sure what to do.
The College takes the use of protected titles seriously and has developed a Standard of Practice related to this topic. The titles we are authorized to use while providing health services are not only granted to us so that registrants are clear on the health services that each of us can provide, but also to serve as an indicator to the public about the level of care they can expect from each designation. The College’s authority in ensuring that protected titles are used properly are extensive and significant fines can be imposed if a title is misused while providing care to the public.
Upon initial review, one might think that this company and its employees are misusing the title of “Paramedic”, and that the College should step in and put a stop to it. Although this scenario is fake, the College has had similar situations occur. We did seek a legal opinion of the use of the “Paramedic” title in this type of situation and we were informed by a regulatory law firm that…
No person shall use the title… “paramedic”… alone or in combination with other words in connection with providing a health service unless the person is authorized to use the title or abbreviation by this Act or another enactment.
The key point they made was that the use of the protected title alone does not constitute misuse unless it is done so where it was accompanied by an expectation of providing a health service. The ‘Plant Paramedics’ are clearly offering landscaping and planting services, and as such, the College would not pursue any claims of misuse of a protected title. This type of title use occurs frequently with the title of “Doctor”, such as “Windshield Surgeons Auto Glass” or “the Rug Doctors Carpet Cleaning”. Neither of these businesses convey that they would be offering health services and therefore there is no misuse of a professional title.
Conversely, consider this situation at a pipeline construction site. The OH&S Code requires this particular site to be staffed by advanced first aiders (AFA’s), and one of the AFA’s consistently identifies themselves to the site manager as “the onsite Paramedic”. While this may seem innocuous at first glance, there can be significant repercussions. If the site manager believes that the AFA is an actual paramedic and appreciate the higher level of care that paramedics can provide, certain emergent situations may be directed to the AFA who would not be able to manage to the same degree as a registered PCP or ACP, such as cardiac chest pain or severe shortness of breath. This could delay response times and result in a negative patient outcome, and situations like these should be addressed.
If a registrant of the College is aware of anyone that continually and intentionally misrepresents themselves by misusing any of the protected titles, they should attempt to inform this individual and make them aware that misuse of protected titles has serious repercussions. If it continues, it would be appropriate to report this to the College so that we can follow up on these matters.