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Winnipeg doctor’s licence revoked for misconduct

Physician watchdog’s reliance on patients to raise concerns questioned

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Manitoba’s physician watchdog has revoked the licence of a Winnipeg doctor after he was found guilty of several counts of misconduct, including failing to maintain professional boundaries with a female patient.

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Manitoba’s physician watchdog has revoked the licence of a Winnipeg doctor after he was found guilty of several counts of misconduct, including failing to maintain professional boundaries with a female patient.

In a decision dated June 2 and posted on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba’s website, a CPSM panel determined Dr. Shamoon Hasham Din breached an undertaking that required him to have a female chaperone present when treating female patients, created false and misleading medical records, provided medical care to pediatric patients whom he was not allowed to care for, failed to maintain professional boundaries with a female patient and displayed an “unwillingness to inability” to be governed by the regulatory body.

The misconduct occurred over a six-month period in 2020-21. Din pleaded guilty to the first three counts and not guilty to the latter two. The law firm that represented Din, MLT Aikins, would not comment on the matter.

The college registrar, in a statement accompanying the decision, said Din has “demonstrated an incapacity or unfitness to practice medicine.”

“The actions by Dr. Din are irresponsible and reprehensible and are destructive for public trust in the medical profession,” the statement reads. “There would no doubt be a risk of harm to the public if Dr. Din was permitted to continue to practice.”

The college also ordered him to pay $40,000 over four years. The college did not answer a list of submitted questions, instead referring the Free Press to the panel’s decision and statement posted on its website.

It’s the second time the college took action against Din, now 45. He was temporarily suspended in 2018 after he had an inappropriate relationship with a teen patient.

This case comes amid an ongoing Free Press investigation into the CPSM’s handling of physician misconduct and the provincial government’s unwillingness to update legislation that critics say fails to protect patients. Patients who were victims of alleged sexual assault by a different physician are outraged by the college’s secrecy, saying patients should be informed when physicians face misconduct complaints — including those potentially involving criminal offences.

While critics agree the decision to strip Din’s licence was the right one, they question why the college allowed the doctor to continue practising after the 2018 matter involving the teen. They say the second round of violations — some of which were reported by a patient — raise concerns about the CPSM’s ability to monitor doctors who commit wrongdoing, and the college’s reliance on patients to flag concerns.

“His behaviour was so unprofessional and unethical that I wonder whether (the college) gave serious and adequate consideration to whether he was a fit person to practise medicine,” said Arthur Schafer, founding director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, speaking to Din’s previous discipline case.

In 2018, Din pleaded guilty to professional misconduct relating to having an inappropriate relationship with a girl who was 16 when he became her family doctor in October 2015. Starting the next July and continuing for seven months, Din prescribed her medication that he didn’t properly document, sent her more than 1,000 “salacious and manifestly unprofessional and inappropriate” text messages and bought her expensive gifts, according to the college. The girl ended up in hospital after she overdosed on anti-anxiety medication he had prescribed her.

The college suspended him for a year and, when Din resumed his practice, required him to adhere to several conditions, including: requiring he have a female chaperone present when treating female patients; requiring he post “conspicuous signage” about the chaperone requirement in the reception and exam rooms; banning him from communicating with patients outside work; and requiring a practice supervisor be present at the clinic at all times and that the supervisor report to the CPSM about Din’s compliance with the conditions.

He later breached those conditions, a fact that came to light when a patient raised concerns.

In March 2021, a female patient contacted the college about Din’s “inappropriate communications” with her, according to the college’s findings. The communications involved Din texting her late at night, including sending one text that read: “Hoping ur rockin it killin shahwtyyyyy.” The college’s final decision letter states that the panel was “unable to conclude” whether that text or others “were of a sexual nature.”

Din has not practised since the college initiated its investigation.

The CPSM later determined Din also falsified medical records relating to the presence of a chaperone for 36 female patients, treated female patients without a chaperone present and he never had chaperones present for virtual patient visits amid the pandemic. He also was not allowed to treat pediatric patients as his licence did not qualify him to, but he still did.

“Either they have an inadequate policy or they are enforcing it inadequately,” Schafer said of the CPSM’s compliance monitoring.

While it remains unclear what steps the college took to monitor compliance — beyond requiring a “practice supervisor” to report issues to the CPSM — Schafer said one step would have been to send in a “fake” patient to check on Din.

He questions why it took a patient complaint for the breach revelations to come to light.

“I think we need some public accountability on the part of the CPSM,” Schafer said.

Brandon Trask, an assistant professor of law at the University of Manitoba, said the reliance on patients to act as a defacto watchdog is particularly concerning since patients may be unaware their physician has previously been disciplined (they would have to look up the physician’s profile on the CPSM’s website) or is under investigation (the college does not release information about physicians under investigation).

“To just rely on public complaints is problematic when the public is not necessarily fully informed,” Trask said.

He also questioned whether the college reported the matter of falsifying documents to police.

Paul Harte, a medical malpractice lawyer based in Toronto, said he is not surprised to find the breaches slipped under the college’s radar.

Harte said self-regulating professions — in this case, doctors overseeing doctors — are inherently flawed in that they protect physicians’ interests over patients’ safety.

He and other critics have called on the province to change legislation governing the CPSM to force the physician watchdog to be more transparent. Health Minister Audrey Gordon has refused to comment on this matter.

“Who is looking out for those patients?” Harte asked. “Who is going to fix the system?”

katrina.clarke@freepress.mb.ca

Katrina Clarke

Katrina Clarke
Reporter

Katrina Clarke is an investigative reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press.

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