Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay physiotherapist has licence suspended for incident over a decade ago

A physiotherapist in Thunder Bay, Ont., has had his licence suspended until September, as part of a disciplinary hearing.

Michael Poling says complaint stems from incident over a decade ago involving business partner's former spouse

A physiotherapist in Thunder Bay, Ont., faces a temporary licence suspension after the Ontario College of Physiotherapists found Michael Poling committed misconduct. (edwardolive/Shutterstock )

A physiotherapist in Thunder Bay, Ont., has had his licence suspended until September, as part of a disciplinary hearing.

Michael Poling was found to have committed professional misconduct, after an investigation into Poling's activities started in December, 2018.

The discipline committee of The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario made a finding in the case in March, 2020.

One of the penalties imposed on Poling was the suspension of his licence, until September 18, 2020. The suspension could be extended if he does not complete other requirements, including completing a review of various college standards, tools and resources; meeting with a practice coach on two occasions, and completing the PROBE program, focusing on ethics and standards.

Poling spoke with CBC News, and said the issues in this matter stem from an incident occurring 13 years ago.

He said the patient in this case, was a former spouse of his business partner, who brought forward complaints in 2017, which were then investigated by the College.

Poling said many of the issues in this case stem from administrative errors. He said at the time of the incident, a decade before the complaint was made, he was unaware of any clerical errors, although he told CBC News he admits that when he first started his own clinic, they may have occured.

Poling said part of his misconduct was failing to care for a patient file. He said records were destroyed in 2012 after his office was flooded. He said the college told him the files should have been kept in a flood proof and fireproof filing system.

The other major issue, he said, was an invoice written around 2007, where the wrong physiotherapist name was written on an invoice. He said that issue was due to an antiquated billing system, in use at the time.

Poling said he was four years out of school when the event took place, and was new in the profession, being unaware of all of the administrative tasks required with running a clinic. He said he no longer owns a private clinic.

The discipline committee ordered Poling to pay $8,000 to the college to offset some of the costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

He also received a written reprimand, stating, "This sort of misconduct cannot be tolerated by the profession. Your actions have negatively affected the reputation of the physiotherapy profession, and actions such as these undermine public confidence."

Poling said the College disciplinary committee told him that while there were findings of misconduct, the committee believed that he had no intent to mislead or misbill in this particular case.

The discipline committee found that Poling committed a number of acts of professional misconduct, including:

  • Failing to maintain the standards of the profession
  • Practicing the profession while the Registrant is in a conflict of interest
  • Failing to keep records in accordance with the standards of practice of the profession
  • Signing or issuing a document that the Registrant knows or ought to know contains a false or misleading statement
  • Submitting an account or charge for services that the Registrant knows or ought to know is false or misleading
  • Contravening a provincial law relevant to the member's suitability to practice the profession
  • Engaging in conduct or performing an act relevant to the practice of the profession that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by Registrants as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional
  • Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that any accounts submitted in the member's name or billing number are fair and accurate

In a statement to CBC News, Jason Taddeo, the Managing Partner of Fairway Physiotherapy said, "We support Michael Poling in the matter that was successfully resolved between himself and the College, by way of negotiated settlement."

"This was a unique situation involving a client that he assessed 13 years ago, prior to the opening of our practice, and one that had no bearing on his clinical abilities or conduct."

"We were pleased to see how the agreed statement of fact between the College and Mr. Poling reflected his position. Further to this, it becomes more unique as the complainant in his matter is a former spouse of myself."

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story indicated Poling and Fairway Physiotherapy did not returrn CBC's request for comment. In fact, Poling had spoken to CBC News, and a statement was received from the clinic, but due to a technical error, the information was not included in the first version of this story.
    May 07, 2020 9:17 AM ET

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.