Doctors in Canada who engage in improper behaviour with patients — everything from inappropriate comments and relationships to unwanted touching and sexual abuse — are frequently given a second chance to continue practising, a CBC investigation has found.
Investigative journalists Holly Moore and Cecil Rosner took your questions about this story in our latest CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion where readers can talk about stories of national interest.
Here's a round-up of some of your comments.
(Note that usernames are not necessarily the commenters' names. Some comments have been edited for length, to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to read the original comment.)
Some readers said doctors deserve a second chance.
"FYI, doctors are people and make human mistakes too. Just because they are a doctor doesn't mean they are super people and make no mistakes. They are human and, in society, everyone get's a second chance. Even murderers do sometimes." - Greggore
"Doctors deserve to be disciplined for ethical breaches but it is better to rehabilitate the doctor than remove his or her right to practice unless they fail to meet competency requirements. Our society needs to be more empathetic and forgiving than punitive." - Robby Canuck
"There are a select few who are capable, interested and successful at becoming doctors. Given that reality they do need to be given a chance at redeeming themselves. One cannot be the sum of a single bad decision. Multiple offences is a different matter though; cases like that need to be evaluated strictly and on a case-by-case basis." - JDev
Some readers felt it made a big difference what the transgression was.
"What concerns me is that some doctors with outstanding skills are losing their licence for issues like a personal relationship, and the public is losing access to these incredible skills. I benefited greatly from an eye doctor considered one of the best in the country — and the college took away his licence because he didn't show a lot of common sense in his personal life. I really don't care about his personal life, but I do care about the fact that he performed an amazingly difficult operation and I can see very well now." - MargaretJ1
"Punishment should fit the crime. Not all transgressions are equal. I think many of those defending the guilty doctors underestimate the severity of some infractions, while those who are calling for blood assume these guilty doctors are all rapists." - Thinking Aloud
Others questioned how complaints are dealt with:
"I think the public deserves a chance to see if their physician has been disciplined. We have this protection in some ways for consumer products. Why not for our health?" - Duncan
"This is a problem with the professional regulation model itself. All regulatory colleges sweep things under the rug. The ratio of viable complaint to disciplinary hearing is a joke. The majority are settled using agreements that are confidential and hidden from your view." - TruthInRegulation
For others, a doctor's violation of trust is too much to look past.
"This is wrong on so many levels. A doctor is in a position of trust. Does this mean we should give teachers who have offended a second chance too? Are we worth less as women?
"Sexual inappropriate touching, comments or emotional put downs damage the patient more than words could ever describe. It's a damage we spend a lifetime trying to unravel." - Cheryl Ashley, (two comments)
You can read the complete CBC Forum discussion in the live blog below.