Patients left in lurch when doctors face discipline
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Tuesday, March 20, 2012 6:46PM EDT
They are trusted with your most personal health problems, but patients can end up with nowhere to turn if a doctor has problems of their own.
When doctors face restrictions or even discipline, patients are left trying to find somewhere else to get treatement.
That happened to 250 patients when a Waterloo doctor's restricted certificate, meant he could no longer treat their pain.
One of those patients is Harry May, who has been living with chronic back pain for 20 years.
"I used to be a painter, climbing ladders and everything else," May says. "I threw my back out, and since then it's just been painful."
And it's become even more painful since the doctor helping him cope using nerve blocks and an Oxycontin prescription stopped practicing.
May says "I was going back every two weeks to see him…he says ‘I'm sorry, I can't do nothing for you. I'm shutting down. I can't do nothing for you, can't treat you or nothing.'"
Dr. Frank Loy's departure from the Pain Management Centre on Westmount Road in Waterloo left May without a prescription and searching for another doctor.
A year later Loy started looking for another job and in February 2012 he resigned and is no longer practicing medicine.
Loy was accused of over-prescribing narcotics to 15 patients.
He didn't want to appear on camera, but tells CTV News resigning was one of three choices he was given by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
The other two options were to fight the allegations in court or to admit guilt. When Loy resigned, the College withdrew the allegations.
A simple search of the website shows several other doctors in southwestern Ontario are facing restrictions of some sort, but it doesn't necessarily mean they've broken the rules.
Dr. Bob Byrick, president of the CPSO, says "One is a standard type of restriction which is placed on every certificate of registration given to a physician in Ontario."
That means doctors are only allowed to practice in the areas in which they're trained and experienced.
The second type is a non-standard restriction, Byrick says, "Which are specifically a result of one of the committees of the College finding an area of practice for an individual which requires restriction to protect the public safety."
You can find details about restrictions on doctors in Ontario by visiting: http://www.cpso.on.ca/docsearch/default.aspx?id=2048
But that won't necessarily tell you why a restriction is in place. The Regulated Health Professions Act determines what information can be made available by the CPSO.
May wants the public to know he wasn't over-prescribed narcotics. He says without the nerve blocks, which he can't get from his current doctor, his current prescription doesn't cut it.
He says Loy was helping him with his pain, but now "My back's pretty sore some days, I'm almost in tears."
And Loy says that while he sometimes did exceed the College's prescription guidelines of 200 milligrams of narcotics, it was his privilege as a pain specialist to do so to help his patients who said they were suffering.
Two of his patients, however, have been accused of selling their pain pills.
Coming up in part two: A number of women in London, Ont. are suing their doctor, alleging she may have played a part in contributing to their health struggles.