Disciplinary action has been imposed against a disgraced P.E.I. surgeon who admitted to professional misconduct, including having a sexual relationship with a male patient.
The Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of P.E.I. has suspended Dr. David Ashby’s licence to practice for two years.
College registrar Dr. Cyril Moyse notes the disciplinary action is a subtle difference from a board of inquiry recommendation in December to revoke, rather than suspend, Ashby’s licence.
Moyse says the council imposed all of the other board of inquiry recommendations.
They include pre-conditions being placed on Ashby’s return to practice that include him undergoing counselling and having his therapist confirm to the college that Ashby understands and appreciates the significance of his conduct.
Other preconditions to having his licence reinstated include Ashby undertaking a course of continuing medical education approved by the college related to the issue of physician and patient boundaries, that upon his return to practice that he be restricted from prescribing medications, that his practice be restricted to that of a surgical assistant and that he not assume any position having responsibility for medical leadership.
Those preconditions may be moot.
During the December hearing, Ashby’s lawyer told the board that having the doctor’s licence revoked for even one year would spell the end of his career.
Ashby, who is in his early 70s, is also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and make a $30,000 contribution towards costs of dealing with his case.
Ron MacLeod, chairman of the board of inquiry, said in December Ashby’s case involved "very serious matters" and described Ashby's actions as an "affront" to patient-doctor boundaries.
Ashby admitted to violating a doctor-patient boundary through the development of a personal and, later, sexual relationship with a patient, which led to providing the patient with financial and other support and improperly prescribing anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications.
He also admitted to prescribing anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications to the patient without proper diagnosis and being outside the scope of his medical practice.
Ashby had practised on P.E.I. his entire career.
He worked at the Prince Edward Island Hospital from 1977 until the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) opened in 1982, where he had been practising ever since with one interruption.
In 2007, Ashby voluntarily withdrew from performing surgical procedures when he tested positive for hepatitis C in association with a routine physical examination.
He returned to work in the QEH operating room in early 2009 after receiving treatment and results from tests that confirmed he no longer had hepatitis C.