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Researchers track number of doctors disciplined and why
Date:10/11/2011

TORONTO, Ont., Oct. 11, 2011A total of 606 Canadian physicians were disciplined by their provincial medical licensing authorities between 2000 and 2009, researchers at St. Michael's Hospital found.

The majority of disciplined physicians were men (92 per cent) who had been practicing medicine for a long time (an average of 28.9 years) and were independent practitioners (99 per cent), according to Dr. Chaim Bell.

The most frequent violations were sexual misconduct (20 per cent), standard of care issues (19 per cent) and unprofessional conduct (16 per cent), he wrote in a paper published today in the journal Open Medicine.

Dr. Bell found that 62 per cent of those disciplined were family doctors, 14 per cent were psychiatrists and nine per cent were surgeons.

The three most frequent penalties were fines (27 per cent), suspensions (19 per cent) and formal reprimands (18 per cent). The median length of suspensions was four months and the median fine was $4,000. Only six per cent of disciplined physicians had their licenses revoked.

Dr. Bell said he believes this is the first time such data has been collected and analyzed from across Canada. The study did not include the three territories where such information is not publicly available.

"This data is an important first step in aggregating and understanding the extent and nature of physician discipline in Canada," he said.

"The medical profession must realize that although disciplined physicians represent a small proportion of total care providers, a single practitioner has tremendous potential to harm patients and the public. There is little doubt these practitioners diminish the integrity of the medical profession."

Dr. Bell stressed that the number of physicians disciplined represents each year represents only 0.06 per cent to 0.11 per cent of all physicians in Canada.

However, 51 physicians committed 64 repeat offenses,
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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