Nova Scotia

Phone line created for patients to report sexual complaints against doctors

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has set up a confidential phone line for patients to report sexual misconduct allegations against doctors.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia hires social worker to consult with patients

Dr. Gus Grant says people can discuss their situation with a social worker before deciding if they want to file a formal complaint of sexual-misconduct against a physician. (Robert Short/CBC)

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has set up a confidential phone line for patients to report sexual misconduct allegations against doctors.

Instead of reaching a general line, patients will now have direct access to an employee with training specific to traumatic experiences.

The creation of the line was one of the recommendations made in an independent review of how the College handles sexual complaints.

The review panel said the governing body needed to create a system that didn't treat sexual allegations in the same manner as general issues, such as concerns over prescriptions.

The idea was to make the system less intimidating and more accessible to those in a vulnerable situation.

Can call support advisor directly

Now, those with sexual misconduct concerns can call a public support advisor directly.

"She's a social worker by training and experience," Dr. Gus Grant, the College's CEO and registrar, said of the new employee. "She's worked in difficult trauma–informed circumstances."

Grant hopes the addition to the office will make people more comfortable to come forward.

The College received four complaints of a sexual nature in 2016, and triple that number in 2018.

The new phone number is now clearly listed on the main page of the College's website.

Grant wants to make it clear that if someone calls the new number, it doesn't mean they have to go through with a full complaint. 

"Our public support advisor can provide advice, provide some navigational assistance, talk people through that which they might experience."

Majority of recommendations already implemented

The College commissioned the independent report, which was released in July.

Grant said the vast majority of the recommendations from the panel have been implemented.

He said the College is in the process of finishing one of the major recommendations — writing a new list of standards and guidelines that deal with sexual misconduct in a physician–patient relationship.

"We're certainly hopeful that by early in the New Year all of the recommendations will be implemented."

Patients wanting to reach the College to discuss sexual misconduct concerns about a physician can call 902-406-8401.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

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