Recently there was a letter in an on-line newspaper that tried to inform people about background issues regarding my retirement. I appreciated the well-meaning support from that letter, but I would like to further explain to my patients some of the things that happened to my practice in the last year in order for them to get the whole story.
In August of 2017, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) did a random audit of my medical practice by what they call their Quality Assurance Committee. They found that my patient care, which includes diagnosis, treatment, and management of common medical problems was quite acceptable. However, they were not satisfied with my medical charts, and in March 2018 I had to appear before their committee where they informed me that my records were inadequate because I did not use an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and that my style of charting was not the way they wanted charting to be done. I told them that my systems were the way I was taught in medical school and that the systems had worked well for me for 39 years, and, that I wasn’t willing to change at this stage of my career. At that point they asked me to voluntarily retire effective June 2018. They did not care when I informed them that my forced retirement would leave 1700 patients orphaned.
With the help of a lawyer, I was able to maintain my medical license for one year. For a while I did make an effort to change my charting system, but it was causing inefficiencies and backlogs that would have caused long waits for appointments. Providing same day appointments was always something that was very important to me and I ended up abandoning their method and returned to my own systems.
Since I couldn’t handle the humiliation of returning to Toronto to face that committee again, I decided to give the required 3 months notice and announce my retirement. I chose August 9th as my last office day, because it was the 40-year anniversary of the day I started in Maple Square in 1979.
In the last 3 weeks, I asked my patients to take possession of their own charts (to avoid an expensive medical record storage fee). At least 1000 patients have picked up their own charts, and I think that they will find that their records are legible, organized and very complete.
The CPSO did return to reassess my practice last week and they would have insisted that I retire if they had their chance.
I find myself very bitter towards the CPSO and I cannot understand how they think that they are helping Ontario residents. In my opinion, the CPSO is mostly made up of a group of doctors that practice and live in our big cities and they don’t understand or care about rural or small-town Ontario. They are inflexible authoritarians who would never admit that there might be other ways of running a medical practice.
I was overwhelmed by the many cards, gifts, and best wishes that my patients sent to me in the last month.
I know that I will truly miss being their doctor.
Dr. Don McCulloch