Ontario doctors disciplined for sending profane emails to medical association head
Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 3:36PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, June 28, 2018 4:54PM EDT
Two Ontario doctors have been disciplined for professional misconduct relating to profane and abusive emails they sent.
Two Ontario doctors have been disciplined for professional misconduct relating to profane and abusive emails they sent to the former head of the Ontario Medical Association.
During separate disciplinary hearings conducted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Dr. Troy Drone and Dr. Michael Tjandrawidjaja admitted to engaging in “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” acts during the summer of 2016.
According to the College’s summary of the hearings, the emails were in relation to a tentative agreement on physician services called tPSA that was reached between the OMA, which represents the political and economic interests of physicians in Ontario, and the provincial Liberal government in July 2016. Led by then-president Dr. Virginia Walley, the OMA promoted the tentative agreement to its members, which included Drone and Tjandrawidjaja, ahead of a ratification meeting in August.
Drone, an anesthetist who has working privileges at the Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., admitted to sending a series of profanity-laced emails to Walley’s personal email address as well as one used by OMA staff expressing his opposition to the tPSA.
In its summary, the College included excerpts from some of the emails written by Drone.
In a June 21, 2016 email, for example, Drone told Walley to “…do your paid job and stop letting this horrible government f--- us around!!! Enough already!! Listen to everyone! Holy f---. For f---s sake???”
In another email dated Aug. 1, 2016, the anesthetist wrote: “Dr. Walley, you are a c---. Crash and burn as you deserve to do!! …Sincerely, F--- YOU and the OMA!!!”
The College also included excerpts from three consecutive emails delivered to Walley on Aug. 11, 2016.
“F--- off Virginia,” Drone wrote at 6:06 p.m.
Two minutes later, he followed up with: “F---off!”
At 6:09 p.m., he sent another email that said: “F----off!”
Drone apologized to Walley during the investigation and acknowledged his conduct was “unacceptable,” according to the College. He was given a one-month suspension and ordered to pay the College $6,000 in legal costs. The anesthetist also undertook professional communication coaching and a class on ethics and boundaries for physicians.
Tjandrawidjaja’s disciplinary hearing on Monday also dealt with a series of unprofessional emails he sent Walley concerning the tPSA. The cardiologist, who works in Brampton, Ont. for the William Osler Health System, sent an email to the former OMA president on July 31, 2016, in which he wrote: “You are a turd.”
Days later, Tjandrawidjaja sent another message to Walley’s personal email address that said: “Virginia, how much are the liberals bribing you?”
Following the College’s investigation, Tjandrawidjaja admitted his emails were “inappropriate” and that he regretted sending them. He was ordered to pay $6,000 in the College’s legal fees, but he was not suspended. The cardiologist also underwent professional communication coaching.
Social media abuse
Drone and Tjandrawidjaja’s cases are not the only examples of what has been described in complaints as cyberbullying by physicians in Ontario. During the OMA’s negotiations with the provincial government regarding the tentative agreement for physician services in 2016, several other physicians faced sanctions and were cautioned by the College for offensive comments they made on social media.
The online attacks targeted Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care at the time, a family physician, and the OMA, among others, according to the College.
A number of doctors were required to appear before a College panel where they were cautioned about their conduct and ordered to undergo an education and remediation program.
The College said it has received complaints about 21 physicians regarding their social media activity. Of those, 11 were either cautioned, disciplined or were required to take a specified continuing education or remediation program.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, the current OMA president, Dr. Nadia Alam, said the OMA does not comment on CPSO investigations. But she said that the association is "committed to supporting a doctor’s right to provide care in an environment free from harassment.
"As a matter of principle, no physician or surgeon should be subject to verbal abuse from medical colleagues, staff or patients," she said.