Manitoba patients able to see doctor's work record

Manitoba's health minister says patients will soon have access to their doctor's professional history. It's being hailed as a first in Canada.

The Manitoba government says it's trying to prevent tragedies from happening.

"'There is a recognition that people require more information in order to make decisions and it was felt that physician profiles were one of the vehicles to enable people to do that," says the province's health minister, Dave Chomiak, who introduced the new legislation.

The inquest involved almost three years of testimony from close to 100 witnesses. It revolved around Dr. Jonah Odim, a pediatric surgeon now practising in California.

An inquest into the deaths discovered the doctor who performed the heart surgeries was inexperienced in some types of operations. Some surgical staff considered Odim incompetent and refused to work with him.

Children with serious heart problems go to Edmonton, Vancouver

A report released in November 2000 outlined 52 recommendations, including publicizing doctor profiles.

Children with serious heart problems now go to Edmonton or Vancouver for treatment.

"Mistakes do occur, people do make mistakes; we're only human...the real issue is to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them," says Chomiak.

Under the proposed legislation, the province will post doctors' education and certification. It will list achievements, disciplinary actions and medical malpractice suits.

"Where physicians are gravely concerned... would be in innuendo that has not been formed by a formal panel to be something wrong," says Dr. Bill Pope, head of the college.

Chomiak says the project will cost millions to implement and will take more than a year to get up and running. The profiles will be made available on a Web site.

Barbara Petkau, whose child was one of the 12 babies at the centre of the inquest, says the legislation was a long time coming.

"It's one step when you think about it," says Petkau. "It's pretty much on the ridiculous side how things have gone so slow.''