Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 3 2017 - Page 56

DISCIPLINE SUMMARIES Dr. Clowater has no disciplinary history with the College, which the Committee accepts as a mitigating factor. As well, in admitting to the allegations early, Dr. Clowater has saved the College the time and expense of a contested hearing and witnesses the need to testify. Dr. Clowater’s counsel submitted that Dr. Clowater’s admission showed insight, remorse and demonstrate her full acceptance of responsibility, and that these are powerful mitigating factors. The Committee disagrees. Although there was no evidence of continued misconduct after 2011, the Committee has real concerns regarding whether Dr. Clowater has gained insight into her professional responsibilities. In the course of the events at issue, Dr. Clowater was repeatedly dishonest in her replies to the College. Rather than recognizing her professional responsibilities and acting reasonably and responsibly, she offered many excuses which were not convincing. After the ordeal, Dr. Clowater stated that “I will never let it happen again in the future. It is way too stressful on my patients and me.” Her own words illustrate her lack of insight into her professional obligations. Other than complying with her membership requirements in the subsequent years, the Committee was left with no assurance that Dr. Clowater truly accepts responsibility for her actions. The Committee accepts, to a limited extent, that Dr. Clowater’s presence at the hearing demonstrates her respect for the College and its role in governing the profession. However, the laissez-faire attitude toward governance that Dr. Clowater demonstrated reveals a lack of fundamental understanding of the gravity of professional responsibility. Counsel for Dr. Clowater submitted that Dr. Clowater was dealing with a number of personal and family issues around the time of her professional misconduct, including financial problems, the death of her father, and difficulties with office management. While acknowledging these as valid issues, they are not excuses for failing to act professionally. The Committee concluded that Dr. Clowater had ample time and repeated warnings to come into compliance. The allegations against her arose solely from her own inaction and her subsequent conduct as a result of that inaction. The aggravating factors which the Committee accepted include Dr. Clowater’s repeated untruths to the College as well her deception by assuring prompt payment when none was forthcoming. In addition, the Committee considered Dr. Clowater’s multiple inconsistent explanations offered at various times as an aggravating factor. The Committee considered the accepted principles of penalty in determining what was appropriate in this case. Of paramount importance is protection of the public. Other important principles include maintenance of public confidence in the integrity of the profession as well as the profession’s ability to govern itself in the public interest; denunciation of the conduct; specific deterrence of the member; general deterrence of the entire membership; and rehabilitation of the member, where relevant. The Committee was of the view that nothing short of a substantial suspension would reflect the gravity of Dr. Clowater’s misconduct. A suspension of three months will provide both specific and general deterrence and will clearly send a strong message to the profession that such behaviour will not be tolerated. A public reprimand also addresses specific and general deterrence. Dr. Clowater’s rehabilitation will be addressed by an ethics course which will provide guidance on appropriate relationships with authoritative bodies as well as on professional responsibility and integrity. After reflecting on case law, the Committee concluded that a three-month suspension falls within that range of appropriate penalty with respect to suspension duration and is the appropriate penalty in all the circumstances. ORDER In summary, the Committee directed a three month suspension, successful completion of an ethics course, a reprimand, and payment to the College for costs of $5,000. For complete details of the Order, please see the full decision at www.cpso.on.ca. Select Doctor Search and enter the Doctor’s Name. Dr. Clowater waived her right to an appeal and the Committee administered the reprimand. 56 DIALOGUE ISSUE 3, 2017