A Winnipeg doctor has been found unfit to practise medicine, ordered to pay $35,000 and had his licence cancelled according to inquiry decision documents released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.
The doctor is appealing the decision in the Manitoba Court of Appeal.
Dr. Rajpal S. Ahluwalia was found guilty of committing acts of professional misconduct, contravening various college bylaws, displaying a lack of knowledge, lack of skill and judgment and of demonstrating an unfitness to practise medicine by a college inquiry committee. He had previously been disciplined in the 1990s for similar misconduct.
He was charged with 12 counts of professional misconduct in March 2015. A hearing last December included a motion to sever seven of the 12 counts so that those counts would be dealt with separately.
Two of the five remaining charges were related to "false and misleading statements" made by the doctor to the college in relation to a chart audit conducted in 2013.
At the conclusion of the audit, the college investigators gave Ahluwalia a report of the results. Ahluwalia then claimed in correspondence with the college that he gave a copy of the report to a group of patients and peers that included ethicists, surgeons and other medical professionals for a "peer group analysis," according to the documents.
He submitted that analysis to the college but eventually admitted he wrote the entire document himself according to the inquiry committee. He also claimed to have hired independent auditors to audit his practice but that was also found to be false by the college's inquiry committee.
Doctor is 'repeat offender'
Ahluwalia was previously suspended in the 1990s for professional misconduct related to similar deficiencies in his medical records and dishonesty. A 2000 discipline decision had ordered him to install medical software but a 2014 forensic audit of his computer found he "failed to maintain and/or update and/or use that software."
The audit found no trace of the software, a disabled firewall, expired antivirus software and other deficiencies which made his computer "vulnerable to unauthorized and/or inappropriate access."
His records also showed evidence he "cut and pasted" entries and in some cases, blood pressure and pulse rates for one patient over several visits were identical, according to the inquiry committee decision documents.
He pleaded guilty to four of the charges and made no admission to a fifth charge of unfitness to practice medicine. The college found him guilty of all five and the college committee called Ahluwalia a "repeat offender" which influenced their decision to cancel his licence.
Ahluwalia emphasized in the documents, that he should be allowed to keep practising medicine as there was no evidence of harm to patients, his false statements did not mislead or discontinue the college investigation, he showed a willingness to improve his record-keeping and that software had now been installed on his office computers.
He emphasized that the initial false statements to the college were made in part because he felt "terrified and intimidated" given the adversarial relationship he had with the college.
The inquiry committee found his misconduct is so serious that they determined he is "ungovernable."
'Cruel and unusual punishment,' Dr. says
Ahluwalia filed an appeal of the inquiry committee decision on March 3 in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. According to his motion to stay the order, "Cruel and unusual punishment has been meted out to the appellant without consideration of other available choices generally utilized by other medical tribunals in Canada."
He stated that "immediate and irreparable harm" may happen to his large cohort of patients and he cited the shortage of experienced medical doctors. He also argued against the publication of the proceedings "until all appeals have been exhausted." He stated that he "has built equity in the trust and health of hundreds of patients with empathetic and competent care."
That stay of order was denied by a judge on March 10, 2016.
Emails and calls to Ahluwalia have not been returned. The college had no further comment as the matter is before the courts.
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