Edmonton doctor guilty of 6 counts of unprofessional conduct

An Edmonton family physician who lied to a police officer about a forged prescription has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

Dr. Daniel McKennitt lied to a police officer investigating a forged prescription

Edmonton family physician Dr. Daniel McKennitt has been found guilty of six counts of unprofessional conduct. (University of Alberta)

An Edmonton family physician who lied to a police officer about a forged prescription has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

In a news release Thursday, the college said a hearing tribunal found Dr. Daniel McKennitt guilty of six charges:

  • two counts of violating his continuing care agreement with the CPSA, by prescribing while not permitted to see or prescribe to patients and prescribing to someone with whom he was in a personal relationship;
  • deceiving the college during a complaint investigation;
  • deceiving the Edmonton Police Service during an investigation of a forged prescription;
  • using another physician's prescription pad to prescribe medications to patients without authority;
  • engaging in an inappropriate personal relationship with a patient.

McKennitt received a 24-month suspension of his practice permit but was given credit for time served since his permit was suspended in July 2016.

His practice permit is now subject to several conditions. He can't prescribe any drugs monitored by the triplicate prescription program, can practice only in "a group setting approved by the college," and can only see patients with a chaperone present, or a parent or guardian if the patient is a minor.

He is also required to take part in the college's health monitoring program until his discharge from the program has been approved by the college. He must pay the $25,000 cost of the investigation within three years.

'Extremely serious,' tribunal chair says

McKennitt, who is in his mid-30s, had been under a continuing care agreement with the college since 2011 that required him to abide by certain conditions as part of an effort to return to active practice.

The tribunal's decision, dated Sept. 17, said McKennitt acknowledged the factual accuracy of each charge against him and confirmed that he engaged in the conduct described. He and the college agreed to the sanctions he would face in a joint submission.

The physician "should consider himself fortunate" that the CPSA didn't seek to take away his licence, the decision said.

"The hearing tribunal views the conduct at issue to be extremely serious as it includes not only breaches of agreements between Dr. McKennitt and the CPSA, but also the misleading of a CPSA investigator and serious boundary violations," tribunal chair Dr. Alasdair Drummond wrote in the decision.

"The hearing tribunal agrees that but for the mitigating factors identified by legal counsel, the conduct at issue here would have warranted the revocation of Dr. McKennitt's licence."

The mitigating factors included "pre-existing medical issues" and "relapses" linked to addiction, the decision said.

Doctor admitted to his conduct

The tribunal found that in May 2016, during an Edmonton police investigation into a forged prescription, McKennitt told an officer that he had an agreement with another doctor to use that doctor's prescription forms. McKennitt used the other doctor's prescription pad to prescribe drugs to three patients.

"The admitted conduct involves not only a misrepresentation by Dr. McKennitt to a law enforcement officer, but it includes a false allegation of an agreement with another regulated member," the decision said.

"Such conduct is serious, falsely implicates another physician, and was intended by Dr. McKennitt to deceive and to cover up the fact that the record was a forgery. The admitted conduct also involves behaviour which could have been subject to a prosecution and sanction under federal criminal laws."

'Sincere regret'

The tribunal also found that McKennitt misled the CPSA by being "less than candid" in a written response to a complaint investigation, and by writing a letter to the college that he claimed was written by a patient.

"Dr. McKennitt has acknowledged that he prepared the letter apparently written by Patient B, which contained information he knew or ought to have known was not accurate," the decision said.

McKennitt's lawyer, Bruce Mellett, told the tribunal his client has expressed "sincere regret" to the CPSA and "is remorseful, feels like he has let his community down, and is embarrassed by his own conduct."