Surgeon at Lakeshore General Hospital suspended for 2 months for tardy surgical notes
College of Physicians ruled Dr. Sharon Dalrymple failed to dictate notes within 24 hours following surgery
The disciplinary council of Quebec's College of Physicians has suspended a surgeon from a West Island hospital for not dictating her surgical notes in the 24 hours following her surgeries.
The council issues a two-month suspension to Dr. Sharon Dalrymple, who's been a surgeon at the Lakeshore General Hospital for 21 years.
The dictated notes are written up and serve as an important reference in case another surgeon has to follow up with a patient in the weeks or months after the original intervention. The longer a doctor waits before dictating the notes, the more that physician risks forgetting.
The report from the College's disciplinary council states that Dalrymple neglected to dictate her notes in the acceptable time on 36 occasions. In one instance, she dictated the notes 11 months after the original surgery in March 2015.
The report also says her administrative file at the hospital contained 70 notices in connection with not dictating surgical notes from 1996 to 2015.
Performs up to 350 surgeries a year
In her defence, Dalrymple said she was living through serious personal problems at the time and she couldn't dictate her post-operative reports within the mandated 24 hours.
She said she conducts between 300 and 350 surgeries a year at the hospital, many of which are cases of cancer.
Dalrymple stated she has worked long hours at the hospital and has never taken more than two weeks of vacation in a year.
Patients rights advocate Paul Brunet says dictating post-operative reports is non-negotiable.
"One must understand that the high level of expertise and the high level of risk of the kind of work that she does on a patient requires absolute and perfect reporting on what she did and what happened," said Brunet. "She must write her report like any specialized doctor."
A 'wonderful' doctor, patient says
Stella Hallman Vranckx describes Dalrymple as "wonderful." The surgeon operated on the 84-year-old for breast cancer in April 2016.
"Though I knew she didn't have time — she was a busy lady — she always took time to talk to me and answer my questions," said Hallman Vranckx. "She always treated me like I was a human being, not just another patient."
The CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal says Dalrymple's suspension will not put patients' health and safety at risk.
In a statement, the agency says it has rescheduled Dalrymple's non-urgent appointments and has passed her more urgent cases to other surgeons.
In addition to being suspended for two months, Dalrymple received fines totalling $15,000. Her suspension takes effect Jan. 22 if there is no appeal.