“Incompetent” Doctor Ordered to Undergo Retraining Appeals: Cape Breton

by John McKiggan

Cape Breton Doctor Incompetent

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia found Dr. Stani Osif guilty of professional misconduct and professional incompetence under the Nova Scotia Medical Act. I posted about the charges a couple of months ago: Cape Breton Doctor so “Incompetent” no Training Program can Help: College of Physicians.

Osif Ordered to Retrain

I see that the College has ordered Dr. Osif to undergo retraining and pass the Canadian College of Family Physicians certification test. According to a report by the CBC, if Osif doesn’t complete the retraining, and pay the College $200,000.00 in legal fees, her license to practice medicine in Nova Scotia will be revoked. You can read the entire College decision here.

Osif Appeals

The CBC has now reported that Dr. Osif has appealed the College’s decision to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

Accuses Witnesses of Perjury

Osif has accused witnesses that testified at her hearing of giving false testimony. In other words, she has accused the people that testified against her of committing perjury!

Public Doesn’t Understand Role of College

I found some of the comments posted on the CBC site interesting (and unfortunate) because they confirm the misunderstanding that the public has about the oversight/supervision that doctors have in Nova Scotia (and the rest of Canada).

One reader commented:

Maybe the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia should be censored by the government for not intervening sooner. How could something this harmful have gone unknown for so many years. Time for the College to be replaced too.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons in each province is the body that is responsible for licensing and disciplining doctors. Over the past 18 years that I have spent representing victims of medical malpractice, I have found that most members of the public misunderstand the role of the College.

Once a doctor is licensed to practice medicine they are assumed to be competent by the College unless shown otherwise. But the College does not engage in ongoing oversight of doctors. The College does not engage in ongoing testing of doctors to ensure that their skills are up to date. Most important; the College does not initiate disciplinary investigations unless it receives a complaint!

Patients Responsible

In other words, a great deal of the responsibility for the oversight and discipline of doctors lies with patients.

Patients Not Told About Medical Errors

The problem with this approach is that there is no legislation, no law, in Nova Scotia that requires doctors and hospitals to tell patients when they have made a mistake, or when the patient has been the victim of medical error.

Furthermore there are no national standards for disclosure of medical errors.

In fact, every province in Canada has legislation that says that Hospital’s internal investigations into medical errors are privileged and confidential. In Nova Scotia, Section 60 (2) of the Evidence Act reads:

(2) A witness in any legal proceeding…is excused from answering any question as to any proceedings before, or producing any report, statement, memorandum, recommendation, document or information of, or made by
(a) a research committee of a hospital;

(b) a hospital committee established for the purpose of studying or evaluating medical or hospital care or practice in a hospital; or
(c) a research committee recognized by the Minister of Health and Fitness and approved for the purpose of this Section,

and that is used in the course of, or arising out of, any study, research or program carried on by a hospital or any such committee for the purpose of education or improvement in medical or hospital care or practice.

Thousands Die Every Year

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, medical errors kill more than 24,000 Canadians each year.

So if the patient has died, or if the patient or his or her family isn’t told that their doctor made a mistake, how are the patients or their family supposed to know if they have the grounds for a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons?

Doctor Filed Complaint

The Osif case is unique because the original complaint that launched the investigation came from one of her colleagues, another doctor. In my experience, that is very unusual. I expect many doctors feel that if they made a mistake they wouldn’t want their colleagues to be filing complaints about them. Doctors are, understandably, reluctant to file complaints about their co-workers.

How Do We Improve Health Care?

So what can be done to improve health care by improving the oversight of doctors? In my view there has to be legislation that requires hospitals, doctors and nurses to report medical errors to patients.

I have no doubt that this type of legislation would be vigorously opposed by the medical profession (or I should say, by their lawyers). But if the ultimate goal is improving health care and patient safety then shouldn’t everyone, patients included, have all the facts?

What do you think?

If you are looking for a Nova Scotia Medical Malpractice Lawyer you can contact me for a free copy of my book: The Consumers Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of potential medical malpractice victims never receive a penny in compensation.

If you believe you or a family member believe you may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice you can contact me through this blog, or call me toll free at 1-877-423-2050.

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