Standards of Care

Standards of Care

When you visit your doctor, you have the basic expectation that you will receive the most appropriate and up-to-date treatment for your illness or injury, regardless of who you see or where you go. You also trust that the doctor will treat you the same way they would treat any other patient suffering from the same illness.

If a doctor is unable to provide the necessary treatment, it is expected that they will refer you to a location or specialist who is prepared to meet your medical needs.

Your doctor is a partner in these expectations, bringing their own experience and expertise along with the latest evidence together in your care. 

These joint expectations, among others, help make up a ‘standard of care’ that ensures patients are receiving proper treatment.

A standard of care is a diagnostic and treatment process that a clinician should use for a specific type of patient, illness, or clinical situation. In other words, this is the level of care that the medical community generally accepts. While these standards are not stored or compiled in a single location, they are the common best practices adopted by healthcare professionals through a variety of training and education, and ultimately inform adopted protocols.

Standards of care for heart failure are set by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. These guidelines cover topics such as preventing and diagnosing heart failure and administering different treatments

Ultimately, it is a shared goal of patients, providers, and organizations that all people in Canada with heart failure have access to high quality care, therapies, and supports they need.

It is important to speak with your healthcare team and providers if you have questions or concerns about your care. 

HeartLife, Canada’s national patient-led organization, advocates for a National Standard of Care for Canadians living with heart failure and their caregivers. The implementation of this standard is supported by a Patient and Caregiver Charter, which proposes a set of rights and responsibilities for patients, caregivers, health care providers, and policymakers and payers. 

In Ontario, there is a provincial standard for what quality heart failure care looks like based on evidence and expert consensus: Heart Failure Care in the Community for Adults (updated 2022).

The Canadian Cardiovascular Society-Canadian Heart Failure Society Focused Clinical Practice Update of Patients With Differing Heart Failure Phenotypes is another new resource that provides responses to fundamental questions that face health care providers, like appropriate timing for the introduction and optimization of different classes of medication according to specific patient phenotypes.

A companion patient guide: Heart Failure – a conversation guide to help people with heart failure receive high-quality care is also an excellent resource.