Question Period (24 May 2005)
From Hansard - 24 May 2005
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Notification of Psychiatristís Patients
Mr. McMorris: ó Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, three
months ago today, February 24, the Minister of Health found
out that patients in the Weyburn and area who are suffering
from some mental illness issues had been seeing a phoney
psychiatrist, a psychiatrist that had nothing but bogus
credentials. What actions did the Minister of Health take at that
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Well, Mr. Speaker, the opposition says
one thing and the facts say another. This particular, this
particular individual thatís involved has been a certified
psychiatrist in a number of places across the world. But he . . .
And his credentials were such that he was a practising
psychiatrist for a number of years. But he was involved with
some fraud around research that he was doing, and his
credentials were taken away.
Mr. Speaker, the process that went through with the College of
Physicians and Surgeons, they spent a long period of time going
over the particular credentials. What they didnít pick up was the
fact that he had been subsequently suspended and removed
from the field.
Mr. McMorris: ó Mr. Speaker, this psychiatrist that weíre
talking about had been found with fraudulent activities in many
other countries and other provinces already, Mr. Speaker.
Clearly the minister should have taken steps immediately to
notify patients, should have notified patients not just the fact
that this psychiatrist had been released of his duties but the
reason why he had been released of his duties, Mr. Speaker.
This psychiatrist had been, over the last few months, in the
Weyburn and area misleading patients. He had the ability to
prescribe medication and drugs for patients suffering from some
mental illness issues.
But he choose to do nothing, Mr. Speaker. Why would he put
people in the Weyburn and area in jeopardy defending a
psychiatrist of this nature?
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Mr. Speaker, once again the opposition
says one thing and the facts are another. This particular
individual was identified as having no longer qualifying clinical
credentials on February 15. And immediately the Sun Country
Health Region took the steps to make sure that patient safety
was not compromised in any way. Another psychiatrist was
given all of the files that this particular doctor had used, and he
went through and made sure that all of the kinds of treatments
that had been done had been followed and treated appropriately.
We have a conflict here between patient confidentiality and
how we make sure that thereís patient safety upheld. And so itís
not appropriate for me or for the officials in the department to
go into a doctorís files and look at the patients. But another psychiatrist did that and followed up.
Mr. McMorris: ó Mr. Speaker, these are very serious
allegations. The very vulnerable patients in this area were
treated by a phony psychiatrist. They had possibly been
prescribed medication incorrectly. There have been possible
issues around diagnosis that were made incorrectly. And yet the
minister has done nothing.
Itís interesting. Is he more interested in the fact that if he went
public with this information, he was worried about lawsuits, or
is he trying to cover something up, Mr. Speaker? Why didnít he
notify the patients of the nature of this psychiatrist?
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Mr. Speaker, appropriate procedures were
followed to have another psychiatrist review all of the files
involved. And this was done immediately when the problem
was identified by the College of Physicians and Surgeons
whose job it is to monitor the professional status of physicians
in this province.
Mr. Speaker, the Sun Country Health Region, using this
particular procedure, was able to make sure that the patientsí
care was not compromised and also to protect the privacy of the
Mr. McMorris: ó Mr. Speaker, that answer is unacceptable.
The patients should have been notified. Three years ago, 71
patients that were examined by a contaminated endoscope were
notified in Saskatoon of the possibly of contracting
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. These patients were informed of the
risks. They were all tested.
And this case is very similar, Mr. Speaker. The minister did the
right thing in Saskatoon by notifying the patients and making
sure the corrective steps were taken. Mr. Speaker, he hasnít
done this in the Weyburn area. Why not?
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Mr. Speaker, the professionals involved
here ó the doctors who are part of the College of Physicians
and Surgeons, the other psychiatrists, and the supervising
psychiatrist in the particular region ó took the appropriate
steps as they deemed appropriate in this particular situation to
protect the privacy of the patients, but also to make sure that
they had not received any kind of adverse treatment.
Mr. McMorris: ó Mr. Speaker, there has been an arrest
warrant issued for Ashoka Prasad. Why didnít the minister
make the public aware of this doctor? There has been a warrant
issued for him. He has done the same work in India, Australia,
and BC [British Columbia], that has been fraudulent. Why
hasnít the minister . . . Was he more interested in protecting
himself from embarrassment as opposed to finding out and
arresting this fraud in Saskatchewan?
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the
arrest warrant thatís been issued has been issued by
Immigration Canada, so that they will be on their records for
immigration when all of this . . . when this man comes back it
can be dealt with.
What I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that in this particular instance
the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the people whose
job it is to review credentials say that this person did have and
does have psychiatric treatment capabilities as a psychiatrist,
but that in subsequent years he was involved in doing research
in psychiatry. And a number of the projects he was involved
with were deemed to be fraudulent.
It doesnít undermine his original training, but what it does mean
is that he cannot be qualified to practice in Saskatchewan once
that was discovered.
Mr. McMorris: ó Mr. Speaker, this doctor was unable to
practice in India. He was unable to practice in Australia. He was
unable to practice in British Columbia and now Saskatchewan.
And what do we do? Heís unable to practice here, but letís turn
him loose on somebody else, Mr. Speaker. This person needs to
be brought to justice, Mr. Speaker.
Itís not a cover-up. Itís not an embarrassment. Deal with the
issue. First of all notify the patients and then deal with this
Hon. Mr. Nilson: ó Mr. Speaker, this man has been dealt with
according to the professional advice of the College of
Physicians and Surgeons and of the other psychiatrists. And
what has been done is that heís been identified internationally
through the immigration system in Canada as to the particular
problems that he has here.
What this particular case identifies for all Canadians is the issue
around how do we assess and acknowledge foreign credentials.
Mr. Speaker, this is part of a national task that we have as
ministers of Health and there are many people working on a
new credentialing system so that this kind of thing will happen
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