Nova Scotia

Patient calls for new rules after family doctor retires without notice

A Halifax woman whose family doctor abruptly retired is wondering why there aren't stricter guidelines in place to govern how doctors inform patients that they are winding up their practices.

There is no mandatory minimum notice that doctors must give patients about their retirements

Deirdre Floyd was shocked to learn her family physician offered no notice of his retirement, especially since she had seen him just weeks ago. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

A Halifax woman whose family doctor abruptly retired is wondering why there aren't stricter guidelines in place to govern how doctors inform patients that they are winding up their practices.

Deirdre Floyd last saw her family doctor, Dr. Enver Deliu, on Aug. 29. He issued her a new prescription and told her to return in a few months to see if it was working.

When she called back last week, the clinic's voicemail announced that Deliu and his wife, Dr. Zivic-Deliu, both retired in September.

Floyd is baffled by the way their departure was handled.

"Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with doctors retiring. They have to at some point," she said. "What bothers me is that there wasn't any indication he was going to retire when I was in on Aug. 29."

'So sudden, so abrupt'

A voicemail at the clinic apologizes for the short notice and not sending out notices to all patients.

Floyd, who has epilepsy, said for patients with chronic illnesses, continuing care is critical.

"This was so sudden, so abrupt. I would hate to see it happen to anybody else," she said.

Existing guidelines for informing patients

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has guidelines for leaving a practice, including telling doctors to inform patients that they're going as soon as they make the decision.

It suggests telling them in person, by phone or through sending letters.

However, the guidelines do not have a mandatory minimum notice, which is something Floyd said would be helpful for patients.

More than 33,000 people in Nova Scotia have signed up for a family doctor wait-list. (Shutterstock)

"There may have been a legitimate reason for him leaving his practice. I have no idea," she said. "Protection should be there for the patients."

Floyd said the college did tell her she could file a formal complaint, but she questions what good that would do since her physician is no longer practising.

Large wait list for family doctors

She thinks the college or the province should be responsible for finding temporary coverage for patients affected by situations like hers, and she doesn't want to be simply added to the family doctor wait-list. In July, the list had more than 33,000 names on it, up from 25,000 in March.

The voicemail at the clinic says the Delius' patients will be seen by another doctor at the clinic. It then gives a fax number as the point of contact.

Floyd said she tried to set up an appointment with that physician, but hasn't heard back in a week and a half.

CBC News also tried to fax the clinic, but received no response.

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