Bulletin December 2018

Bulletin December 2018

This Bulletin is forwarded to every medical practitioner in the province. Decisions of the College on matters of standards, amendments to Regulations, guidelines, etc., are published in Bulletins. The College, therefore, assumes that a practitioner should be aware of these matters.

Officers and Councillors 2018-2019
 President - Dr. Stéphane Paulin, Oromocto Registrar - Dr. Ed Schollenberg 
 Vice-President - Dr. Julie Whalen, Moncton  
Dr. Éric Basque, Pointe-des-Robichaud Dr. Marcel Mallet, Moncton
Dr. Stephen R. Bent, Miramichi Dr. Nicole Matthews, Campbellton
Dr. Zeljko Bolesnikov, Fredericton Ms. Patricia I. O'Dell, Riverview
Dr. Hanif J. Chatur, Grafton Dr. Peter Ross, St. Andrews
Mr. Stephen Crawford, Fredericton Dr. Kerry Sheppard, Saint John
Mr. Donald Higgins, Rothesay Dr. Susan E. Skanes, Dieppe
Dr. Éric Levasseur, Edmundston Dr. James Stephenson, Saint John
 Ms. Ruth Lyons, Tide Head  


A Counsel is advice as to how to improve the physician’s conduct or practice.

A Caution is intended to express the dissatisfaction of the Committee and to forewarn the physician that if the conduct recurs, more serious disciplinary action may be considered. 

A Censure is the expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. 

A patient suffered a complication during treatment.  She alleged that the physician subsequently insisted that she sign a form releasing him of any legal liability.  Such would have been unethical.  However, the form was actually a release to allow him to discuss her case during a presentation.  Such was completely appropriate.  

 A patient had a breast biopsy done by a consultant.  She sought to contact her family physician regarding the results a few days later.  His office said the report had not been received and would not be ready for some time.  The patient subsequently attended another physician who accessed the report without difficulty.  The Committee felt that the family physician could, and should have, been more helpful.  The report was available at the time the patient inquired.  A timely response would have reduced unnecessary stress.  The physician received a Caution.

 A mother had a stillborn baby post-term.  The likely cause was a cord accident.  The mother alleged that she should have had the delivery induced sooner based on the large size of the baby.  The physician asserted that there was no indication for such based on any prevailing guidelines. The Committee confirmed such to be the case. 

A patient had suffered a hand laceration which was repaired by the physician in the Emergency Room.  The patient alleged that the repair was not done properly and, consequently, he lost his ability to move his fingers.  In response, the physician asserted there was no evidence of tendon damage at the time of the repair.  It is possible that such became evident later.  The Committee also noted there was a significant delay in definitive surgery, which could have had an effect of the eventual result. The Committee determined to take no further action.

There was a complaint that a family had been misled by a patient’s physician regarding the patient dying of cancer some years earlier.  The family had since become aware that such was not the case. In response, the physician asserted such was never the case.  The patient was being assessed for the possibility of abdominal malignancy, but died suddenly before further investigations could be done.  In the end, the autopsy confirmed that, in fact, the patient was suffering significant complications from a very large gallstone.  

A patient attended the Emergency Department twice in one day.  On the first visit, after a significant wait, she determined that she would return later to be seen.  When she did, the physician asserted that her repeated visits to the Emergency Department were costing the system $600 each time.  The physician provided a minimal assessment and the patient subsequently went to another centre and was treated.  In response, the physician acknowledged that the comments were unnecessary.  Nevertheless, the Committee felt it appropriate to Caution the physician regarding such gratuitous remarks at the very outset of seeing a patient. 

A pregnant patient presented to the Emergency Room with respiratory symptoms.  After an assessment, it was determined there was no evidence of significant issues and the patient was discharged.  She subsequently became extremely ill with a number of complications.  She alleged that the initial assessment was inadequate.  In reviewing the matter, the Committee did note the magnitude of the patient’s problems, but in terms of the entire picture, the initial presentation did not present any issues which would have warranted further investigation at that point.

A physician providing locum coverage in another physician’s office was seen by a mother and her adolescent son regarding some behaviour issues on the part of the latter.  In the course of the discussion, the physician alluded to some recent news events involving shootings at schools.  The mother felt that such was inappropriate and added considerable stress to the encounter.  In response, the physician acknowledged that her remarks were misinterpreted and she truly regretted making them.  The Committee felt this was a sufficient outcome for the matter and recommended no further action.

A patient had breast cancer and received a full range of treatment.  She continued to be followed by her family physician.  At some point, she developed significant back and limb pain.  The physician proceeded with a number of investigations and consultations without coming to a diagnosis.  The patient subsequently attended another physician who ordered a bone scan which determined that, in fact, the patient had metastasis to her bones.  The physician had made reasonable efforts to consider a range of possibilities, and to some extent was supported by consultants who had also seen the patient.  However, a patient with her past history who presented with such symptoms should have been considered for the possibility of metastasis much sooner.  The Committee felt that this warranted a Caution.

A young child was taken to a walk-in-clinic with a swollen penis.  The physician immediately provided a prescription without examining the child in any way.  He later asserted he was sure of the diagnosis and did not need to examine the child.  He then further stated that this was an error and the patient should have been examined regardless.  The Committee felt a Counsel was warranted..

A patient alleged that her family physician had disclosed confidential information to her parents who were also patients of the same physician.  The physician adamantly denied such and there was no clear evidence that such had occurred.  Consequently, the Committee felt no further action was warranted.  Nevertheless, physicians should be mindful of the risk of any such discussions, even when they might be well intentioned.

A patient alleged that a physician refused to treat him unless he only accessed a particular hospital for services.  It was also alleged that the physician insisted the patient attend a private clinic for venipuncture.   The physician asserted that such was not the case.  Absent further evidence, the Committee chose not to take further action, but noted it would be improper for the physician to do so.  Patients must be free to access the services of entities and professionals of their choice.

Annual Renewals

By now, all physicians should have received their combined invoice for their annual fees and those of their Professional Corporation, where applicable.  Physicians should contact the College immediately if such has not been received.  Members who have changed their contact information, their banking information, or do not wish to renew their licences, should contact the College office by email or fax.