Doctor appeals from Scotland P.E.I. College decision

A doctor now practising in Scotland is appealing a finding of professional misconduct by the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Patient claims back complaints not dealt with

A doctor now practising in Scotland is appealing a finding of professional misconduct by the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Robbie Coull closed his Charlottetown practice in 2011, and is appealing the college decision from Scotland. (CBC)

The case goes back to 2010, when Dr. Robbie Coull was practising in Charlottetown. He was treating John MacLean, who was complaining of a workplace injury.

MacLean doesn't feel the P.E.I. medical system or the Worker's Compensation Board treated him very well after his injury. He said he hurt his ankle on the job, but soon after began having issues with his back that he believed were related to the incident. He said the back pain became almost unbearable.

"Horrendous. There were days I didn't know how much more I could take," said MacLean.

"But with a young family, they needed me here."

Coull was MacLean's family doctor at the time. Coull referred him to an orthopedic surgeon, but MacLean didn't think Coull paid enough attention to his back, so he complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Originally, the council of the college dismissed MacLean's complaint. But he appealed, and it went to the fitness to practice committee.

John MacLean believes the P.E.I. medical system and the Workers Compensation Board did not provide proper care for his back pain. (CBC)

The committee issued a report in October. It found Coull didn't "appropriately or specifically address the repeated complaints of MacLean concerning his back pain." The college fined Coull $12,500 for the cost of the investigation.

In the committee's written report, Coull is quoted as saying, "I would have pursued the back more aggressively if the patient had complained of significant back pain."

But the report also said Coull told the committee that he had made referrals to orthopedic surgeons, and he was looking to them to address MacLean's ankle and back.

Evidence questioned

Coull closed his Charlottetown practice in 2011 and moved to Scotland. He is appealing the college's decision from there. In court documents he states the committee made errors by ignoring relevant evidence and by relying on improper evidence.

MacLean eventually had back surgery in New Brunswick, three years after his injury, and is almost pain free today. He said he is pleased with the college's decision.

"I was very happy and relieved to finally after years of telling whoever would listen what was going on and what was happening to me, to finally have a body of professionals to say that yes, this was not appropriate, and something should have been done sooner," he said.

Maclean still has an issue with the Workers Compensation Board. He believes Coull was influenced by the WCB's focus on his ankle.

The committee report, however, quotes a letter from Coull in which Coull stated while the WCB only wanted reports on MacLean's ankle, his approach to the treatment of MacLean was not dictated by the WCB.

The Workers Compensation Board won't comment on MacLean's case, but did say it uses evidence-based decision making to determine whether an injury is work related.