64 Manitoba doctors disciplined over 15 years
Doctor who breached patient boundaries twice still practising
At least 64 doctors in Manitoba have been disciplined by their regulatory body over the last 15 years, for everything from minor administrative issues to billing problems, quality of care, ethical breaches and improper behaviour with patients, a CBC News investigation has found.
Seven of those cases involved inappropriate behaviour with patients, including sexual touching, sexual gestures and comments, and relationships with patients. Three of those seven doctors had their licences revoked or cancelled and one resigned.
One doctor who got his licence back has been cited for inappropriate behaviour more than once, but transparency restrictions in Manitoba prevented his first offence from being made public at the time.
Winnipeg family physician Dr. Marvin Slutchuk was censured by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba in 1990 for having a sexual relationship with a patient, and disciplined in 2003 for being sexually intimate with another patient.
The 2003 panel found he violated his ethical obligations to that patient and "exploited her for his personal advantage."
The same inquiry found that at a 2001 office Christmas party attended by co-workers who were also patients, Slutchuk went into the hot tub, nude, and one of his female patients was also in the hot tub.
He currently is licensed in Manitoba and practises at Lakewood Medical Centre under a variety of terms and conditions.
He declined a recent interview request but told CBC News that physicians are not educated in appropriate boundaries.
"Physicians, trainees — I think that's happening now — need to have a very, very extensive course in boundaries with patients," Slutchuk said.
Not disclosed at the time
Back in 1990, the public was not informed that Slutchuk had been censured, because although the case was published, Slutchuk was not named at the time.
It was only because of Slutchuk's 2003 case that the public learned of his 1990 censure, said college registrar Dr. Anna Ziomek in an email to CBC News.
"It is by virtue of the 2003 proceedings that Dr. Slutchuk's 1990 censure became public," Ziomek wrote. She added there have been significant changes to the college's governing legislation in the 25 years since the 1990 Slutchuk decision.
"The college now has an investigation committee policy that requires that a member's name be published in a censure and the censure will appear on the member's profile unless the investigation committee orders that it not be published to protect the privacy of a patient or a patient's family or the safety of any person," Ziomek said by email.
In at least four cases over the last 15 years, doctors have been disciplined in Manitoba without being named.
Not only was Slutchuk given a second chance by the college and allowed to continue practising after the 1990 censure, he was also given a third chance when he regained his practice in 2007, albeit with restrictions, such as not treating female patients.
The college lifted that restriction in 2010, noting "the rehabilitation which Dr. Slutchuk has undertaken to date has been meaningful." He is now allowed to see female patients but must comply with various restrictions, such as not treating them for breast or gynecological problems.
Slutchuk served on the board of the college from 1984 to 1989 and from 1996 to 2001.
Manitobans have less access to doctors' discipline information
All colleges, except for those in the territories, post some information about physician discipline on their websites.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons in Saskatchewan posts information going back 16 years, and Ontario's records stretch back to the 1980s.
The physician profile regulation passed by the Manitoba government in 2005 "limits the publication of disciplinary actions on physician profiles to those actions taken against the member in the past 10 years. Therefore, no profile contains disciplinary action more than 10 years old," Ziomek wrote.
Ontario's college routinely posts the dates of upcoming discipline hearings, including the allegations and the doctor's name. Alberta and British Columbia also post notices of doctors who have upcoming hearings.
Manitoba does not. In fact, the Manitoba Medical Act prohibits the college from naming doctors who have an upcoming hearing.
Ziomek said there are currently two hearings scheduled for Manitoba doctors — one on April 18 and another on May 24 — but because of Section 55 of the Medical Act, the hearing notices must not include the doctor's name, she said.
"Accordingly I am not at liberty to provide you with the names of those members," she wrote.
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