Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 3 2017 - Page 55

DISCIPLINE SUMMARIES Clowater’s account lacked sufficient funds. Again, Dr. Clowater was notified on several occasions that her CMPA coverage had lapsed. She attempted to pay the outstanding retroactive balance by a letter dated February 10, 2011 which was received on March 7, 2011. The CMPA responded by returning her cheque because Dr. Clowater had not complied with the proper procedure for resuming CMPA membership or with filing a request for backdating. On several occasions during Dr. Clowater’s lapsed coverage period, the CMPA attempted to contact her. She was not responsive. The Committee was struck with the similarity of Dr. Clowater’s non-responsive- ness with the CMPA and how she conducted herself in her interactions with the College. In the Commit- tee’s view, her pattern of repeatedly failing to respond to important requests related to her ability to prac- tise medicine demonstrate that Dr. Clowater either fails to understand or is ignorant of her professional responsibilities. The Committee was particularly troubled by the fact that Dr. Clowater practised for a significant period of time without liability coverage. Practis- ing medicine without coverage poses a major risk to patients. It is fortuitous that no actual harm befell these patients and that Dr. Clowater eventually received backdated coverage in 2013. However, the public, and specifically the patients Dr. Clowater saw, were not protected at the time she saw the patients. The public, the profession, and the College all expect that physicians will practise with liability coverage. The Committee considered Dr. Clowater’s failure to do so to be serious and reprehensible behaviour. The Committee concluded that this behaviour also merits a suspension. The CMPA confirmed that Dr. Clowater’s member- ship was reactivated on June 17, 2011. Dishonesty On September 27, 2011, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance informed the College that Dr. Clowater’s ap- pointment to Courtesy Staff was deferred because she had allowed her CMPA coverage to lapse. In October 2013, the College asked Dr. Clowater about the lapse in her CMPA coverage. Dr. Clowater responded that she only became aware that her CMPA membership had lapsed after receiving the October 2013 letter from the College. This was untrue. In her response to the College, Dr. Clowater sought to avoid the blame for her rejected CMPA debit, claiming her failure to pay was either due to the fact that she was changing banks or because of her office manager. Dr. Clowater stated that “arrangements were made to immediately bring her account [with the] CMPA current” once she was notified of her lapse. In fact, the CMPA had contacted Dr. Clowa- ter in December 2010, January 2011, and February 2011 before receiving a response from Dr. Clowater in March 2011. Dr. Clowater also was not honest with the College in her September 28, 2011 email response when she stated that she had not been practising since Septem- ber 7, 2011. While the Committee accepted that Dr. Clowater advised the College on September 29, 2011 that she had seen 90 patients from September 15 to 28, 2011, the Committee did not find her attempt to explain why she thought she could practise during that period to be credible. Dr. Clowater once again misled the College in her January 26, 2012 letter, writing that, “I didn’t know my certificate was suspended until September 9” when she said she was notified by the secretary at the Children’s Treatment Centre in Chatham. The evidence before the Committee demonstrates the College’s repeated efforts to have Dr. Clowater com- ply by paying her annual dues. The College issued multiple warnings of her impending suspension, and the College notified Dr. Clowater once her suspen- sion was in effect. The Committee found that her actions overall have seriously undermined her integrity, which is one of the core values of the profession. Mitigating and Aggravating Factors While no actual harm befell patients as a conse- quence of Dr. Clowater’s misconduct, Dr. Clowater was not acting in her patients’ interests when she allowed her CMPA coverage to lapse. She was also not considering the need for her patients to receive continuity of service when she allowed her licence to be suspended for lack of payment of membership dues. Full decisions are available online at www.cpso.on.ca. Select Doctor Search and enter the doctor’s name. ISSUE 3, 2017 DIALOGUE 55