Injecting Clients into a Professional Dispute is Misconduct

Practitioners cannot use their clients as pawns in their professional disputes. Doing so can amount to professional misconduct. A physician learned this the hard way in Torbey v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, 2018 ABCA 285, http://canlii.ca/t/httn3. Dr. Torbey was upset that his operating room time was reduced. As a result he stopped seeing patients for procedures in the operating room on the days remaining to him. He also sent a communication to his patients “advising that his surgical schedule had been cut down to two days per month, and while he had requested outpatient time at the hospital nothing had been done … and asked his patients to get involved. He named the hospital doctors involved in the dispute and stated the administration was ‘greedy, self centered and discriminating’, ‘using the patient with urological problems as a tool to push me around and bullying me for no justifiable reason putting the urological patient at risk’.”

The discipline tribunal found that such behaviour was professional misconduct and “ordered that he be suspended for a period of one month, but that the suspension would not need to be served if he completed a Comprehensive Occupational Assessment for Professionals.” The Court held that both the finding and the sanction were reasonable.

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