Saskatchewan

2 Regina doctors accused of improperly prescribing methadone

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan are alleging that two Regina doctors improperly prescribed methadone to patients.

Doctors also accused of failing to notify patients could choose which pharmacy to dispense their prescriptions

Dr. Ashis Paul and Dr. Rajnikant Patel were accused by the College in the last week of March for unprofessional conduct, improper prescribing and poor record keeping. ( Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Two Regina doctors are facing allegations from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan that they improperly prescribed methadone to their patients.

Dr. Ashis Paul and Dr. Rajnikant Patel were accused by the college in the last week of March for unprofessional conduct, improper prescribing and poor record keeping.

The charges stem from Patel and Paul's time working at the Parliament Methadone Clinic on Dewdney Avenue.

It is also alleged that the two men had a conflict of interest related to their practice at the clinic.

R & C drugs shares a building with the clinic. In the written charges it is alleged that Paul and Patel underpaid for the premise, staff, and services and they "failed to exercise due diligence to ensure that the patients who sought medical care at Parliament Methadone Clinic had a choice of pharmacy at which their methadone prescriptions could be dispensed."

In the event that a patient did not have their methadone dispensed at R & C it is alleged that they were charged by Paul and Patel and if they sought treatment elsewhere they "would be denied continuity of medical care unless that patient was willing to pay a fee."

Methadone bottles contain specific doses of medication for patients. (Tom Steepe/CBC News)

Bryan Salte, the associate registrar and legal counsel for the college, said the charges came after the college agreed to appoint members to a committee in the spring of 2018 that would look into the practices of the physicians.

He said improper record keeping can be a serious issue for patients looking to transfer to other centres for treatment, "especially with respect to people with addictions undergoing prescribed opioid agonist therapy."

"It's improvident that other people can access the information and understand what's going on. So in the event that a patient transfers from one physicians care to anothers, the next physician has to be able to pick up the chart and look at it and understand what was going on," he said. 

"Nobody will have the ability to remember everything about every patient,"

As of April 1, Paul had agreed to stop prescribing methadone to patients, while Patel will stop his prescribing by May 1, said Salte.

The College has stated there are few doctors in the province that can or are willing to prescribe methadone. 

Of the 2,639 doctors in Saskatchewan practicing as of March 2018, the College said that there are only 23 physicians who were authorized to prescribe methadone for opioid addiction and 47 doctors who were authorized to prescribe for both pain and addiction.

Salte said the College is working hard to regulate and audit practices through bylaws, but there is also a consideration made to the ability of patients to access medicine. 

"There just aren't enough physicians out there willing to do this work. So it's a challenge to try to appropriately deal with the situations where there are some concerns that perhaps a physician or clinic isn't operating ideally," he said.

"Because if you shut them down it may be that these patients now have no option for methadone."

The charges levied by the College of Physicians are not criminal charges. Instead the College alleges that the physicians failed to meet the standards of the medical profession.

Salte said it was still too early in the process to comment on what the outcome of these charges could be.

Neither of the doctors have admitted to these charges.  According to the College, any physician that denies some or all of the allegations in a charge is entitled to a hearing before the discipline committee to determine if the allegations are founded.

The director of Parliament Methadone Clinic did not respond to a request made by CBC News.

With files from Stephanie Taylor

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