Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Physicians and Surgeons – Physicians and surgeons – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Penalties – Judicial review – Evidence
Coull v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Prince Edward Island,  P.E.I.J. No. 20, 2015 PECA 6, Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal, April 24, 2015, D.H. Jenkins C.J.P.E.I., M.M. Murphy and G.E. Mitchell JJ.A.
A patient had complained that Dr. Coull, while treating that patient for an ankle problem, failed to investigate the complainant’s back problem thoroughly enough despite the patient’s requests for him to do so. The College Council had ordered that Dr. Coull’s actions amounted to “professional misconduct” under the Medical Act, R.S.P.E.I. 1988, Cap. M-5 and Regulations. Dr. Coull was fined $12,500 as recovery for the College’s costs of investigation, and the finding of professional misconduct was to be recorded on the register. On appeal, Dr. Coull submitted that there had been legal errors in process and decision making on the part of the College’s Fitness to Practise Committee. The Fitness to Practise Committee did not obtain easily accessible information relevant to its findings, ignored relevant evidence before it, and made conclusory findings that were unsupported by the evidence. Dr. Coull filed an appeal from the Order of the Council of the College and, prior to this matter being heard before the Court of Appeal, the decision in Swart v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of P.E.I., 2014 PECA 20 found that the Council’s Order was invalid because it followed invalid recommendations from the same Fitness to Practise Committee and in particular that that Committee’s findings of professional misconduct were not sustainable as they were not supported by the evidence or in law. The College then acknowledged that Dr. Coull’s appeal should be allowed as there was insufficient evidence to support the Order of the Council and the finding of professional misconduct against him. The court agreed that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of professional misconduct. The Court of Appeal ordered that the Order in Council of the College against Dr. Coull be quashed, that the Findings of the Fitness to Practise Committee of the College be quashed, and that no further action would be taken against Dr. Coull with respect to the complaint.
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