A panel of judges has dismissed the appeal of a Grande Prairie surgeon who has been suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta for more than two years. Dr. Mohammed Al-Ghamdi had appealed their 2017 decision to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, after his initial appeal to the college’s Council Review Panel was dismissed at the end of 2018.
The orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the QEII Hospital was handed a three-year suspension from practicing after a tribunal found him guilty of eight counts of disruptive conduct. It was determined that a pattern of disruptive conduct, described as “cultivating a culture of fear and distrust”, between 2003 and 2014 amounted to unprofessional conduct. Dr. Al-Ghamdi was offered the opportunity to reduce his suspension to two years if he underwent a comprehensive assessment program and therapy, but with 10 months left to go, he has not yet started.
It was argued in the appeal that disruptive behaviour does not constitute unprofessional conduct in the Health Professions Act and that the tribunal should not have re-considered complaints against Al-Ghamdi that had previously been dismissed. He also maintained that the length of his suspension was unreasonable, along with the more than $700,000 he was ordered to pay to cover part of the costs of his hearing.
While the Court of Appeal agreed that the Hearing Tribunal and Review Panel shouldn’t have relied on some of the evidence given, their mistakes aren’t enough to weaken their decision.
“In the context of all of the other evidence on the allegation of “disruptive conduct”, those errors were not sufficient to undermine the overall finding of professional misconduct,” the Memorandum of Judgement reads.
They also determined that even if Al-Ghamdi’s suspension was much longer than others given in the past it is a moot point as it will be over on December 21, 2020.
“A reduction of the suspension at this point would have no practical effect.”
As for costs, those were also found to be reasonable as Al-Ghamdi was largely the reason for the hearing’s length and complexity.