News Release

2014 - 10 - 30 Discipline Committee Decisions

Dr. David Gary Saul; Dr. Bruce Gordon Minnes; Dr. Colin Peter Sinclair

Oct 30, 2014

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“the College”) released the results of its most recent disciplinary hearings.  The College is the licensing and disciplinary body for physicians in Ontario.  Hearings are held to review allegations of professional misconduct and incompetence, and are open to the public.  The following are brief summaries of recent discipline hearing results.  The Discipline Committee’s full decisions and reasons for decisions are posted on the College’s website as they become available.  Full decisions are located by entering the doctor’s name in the Doctor Search section of the College’s website at www.cpso.on.ca.

Dr. David Gary Saul, Toronto.  On September 22, 2014, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Saul committed an act of professional misconduct, in that he has engaged in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct. Dr. Saul admitted to the allegation.

On December 8, 2011, Dr. Saul entered into an undertaking with the College as a result of information obtained by the College in the course of an investigation into Dr. Saul's standard of practice. Between December 8, 2011 and December 31, 2011, Dr. Saul breached the undertaking by providing 43 medical declarations relating to Health Canada medical marihuana authorizations for his patients. Between January 4, 2012 and January 6, 2012, Dr. Saul submitted seven further Medical Authorization Declarations for patients.

Dr. Saul stated that, at the time of signing the undertaking with the College, he did not fully focus on the fact that, according to its terms, the undertaking took effect upon execution on December 8, 2011. Dr. Saul acknowledges that he was represented by experienced legal counsel throughout the negotiation of the undertaking.

Dr. Saul acknowledged that he did not, at any time, consult with the College about his obligations pursuant to the undertaking before continuing to submit Medical Declarations in December 2011 and January 2012 while the undertaking was in force. Dr. Saul admitted that he breached the terms of his undertaking by continuing to sign and submit Medical Declarations.

Pursuant to his undertaking, Dr. Saul was required to post a clearly visible sign in the waiting rooms of all of his practice locations notifying patients of his prescribing restrictions. In May 2012, a College investigator noted there was no sign posted. Dr. Saul acknowledged that he did not, at any time, consult with the College as to how he should comply with the undertaking in light of the fact that his new office did not have a waiting room. Dr. Saul acknowledged that he breached his undertaking by failing to post a sign advising of his prescribing restrictions.

In the course of issuing Medical Declarations relating to Health Canada medical marihuana authorizations, Dr. Saul admitted that he dated some of these Medical Declarations as of December 31, 2011, when he had actually seen the relevant patients and completed these Medical Declarations earlier that month. Dr. Saul's stated reason for post-dating these Medical Declarations was to maximize the timeframe for which the marihuana authorizations obtained by his patients would be valid after December 31, 2011. Dr. Saul admitted that he issued Medical Declarations that were inaccurate and misleading in this respect.

The Discipline Committee ordered a public reprimand and directed that the Registrar suspend Dr. Saul's certificate of registration for a period of two months, commencing on November 1, 2014. Furthermore, a number of terms, conditions and limitations are imposed on his certificate of registration, which are summarized as follows:

The Discipline Committee ordered a public reprimand and directed that the Registrar suspend Dr. Saul's certificate of registration for a period of two months, commencing on November 1, 2014. Furthermore, a number of terms, conditions and limitations are imposed on his certificate of registration, which are summarized as follows:

  1. Dr. Saul shall, at his own expense, successfully complete an educational program satisfactory to the College in Ethics, with a report or reports to be provided to the College regarding Dr. Saul's progress and compliance.
  2. Effective immediately, Dr. Saul shall be prohibited from all practice in relation to Cannabis, as defined by Schedule II to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, including,
    1. The prescription, dispensing or administration of Cannabis;
    2. Signing medical documents pursuant to the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, or any equivalent documents pursuant to such statutes and/or regulations as may come into force at a future time, or participating in any way in the preparation, issuance or support of Marihuana Documents; or
    3. The counselling, assessment or treatment of patients in relation to Cannabis.
  3. Dr. Saul shall inform the College of each and every location where he practices including, but not limited to hospitals, clinics, and offices, in any jurisdiction, within 15 days of this Order, and shall inform the College of any and all new practice locations within 15 days of commencing practice at that location;
  4. For an indefinite period of time, Dr. Saul shall submit to, and not interfere with, unannounced inspections of his practice location(s) and patient records by a College representative for the purposes of monitoring his compliance with this Order; and
  5. Dr. Saul shall consent to the monitoring of his OHIP billings and cooperate with inspections of his practice and patient charts by College representatives for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing his compliance with the terms of this Order.

Dr. Saul was further ordered to pay the College costs in the amount of $4,460.

Dr. Bruce Gordon Minnes, Toronto.  On September 29, 2014, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Minnes committed professional misconduct, in that he has engaged in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct.

Findings in Relation to Conduct at the Hospital

The Committee found that Dr. Minnes failed to observe appropriate boundaries in the hospital setting with respect to numerous workplace colleagues over an extended period of time.

Regarding nurse B, Dr. Minnes would, on occasions in 2008 without explanation, put his arm on her shoulder. In early 2009, while she was on the phone, Dr. Minnes placed his hands on her head and leaned in to kiss the top of her head; on an occasion the following month, Dr. Minnes came up behind her and massaged her neck and back. On another occasion, in early 2009, while she was sitting down charting, Dr. Minnes put his hand on her shoulder.

Dr. Minnes also behaved in an inappropriate and unprofessional manner with clinical manager D. In the early 2000's, Dr. Minnes approached D with a smile, wrapped his arms around her tightly and lifted her off the ground.

Regarding nurse C, on one occasion, Dr. Minnes came up behind her and started massaging her shoulders. He also pointed to or gently touched her collar area to make her look down and then he flicked his fingers up to touch her chin. She found this touching very annoying and uncomfortable and witnessed him do this to a new nurse in the department in the fall of 2011. On another occasion, Dr. Minnes took nurse C's hand and kissed it. She told him this was inappropriate and not to touch her again in any way. He called the next day to apologize and stopped touching her hand and doing the finger flicking trick. However, nurse C continued to witness Dr. Minnes touch other staff on the back, shoulders and doing the "finger flicking" routine.

Nurse F, who began work in the department in approximately 2003, witnessed Dr. Minnes giving back rubs to female staff and in the past, saw Dr. Minnes play the finger flicking game with female staff.

These interactions with Dr. Minnes made it uncomfortable for staff to work with him.

In March 2009, Chief of the Department of Paediatrics and other staff, met with Dr. Minnes to discuss nurse B's complaint. In the context of discussing personal boundary issues, Dr. Minnes said that he recognized that at times he had difficulty exercising appropriate self-control and that at times colleagues had told him they were uncomfortable with his behaviour so he stopped. At that meeting, he acknowledged that he had been previously spoken to in October 2003 about complaints received about his inappropriate behaviour, including touching nurses in a manner that could be considered inappropriate and that he had been asked at that meeting to refrain from such action. At the hospital's direction, Dr. Minnes took certain steps to try to address these concerns.

Dr. Minnes admitted that the facts agreed to with respect the hospital allegations support a finding of disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct against him.

Findings in Relation to Conduct as a Camp Physician

These findings pertain to Dr. Minnes' actions in relation to Ms A, a 17-year-old counsellor at a camp, where Dr. Minnes was volunteering as the camp physician, in the summer of 2007.

The Committee found based on the evidence that there was no doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Minnes and Ms A. She was not his patient on the date in July 2007.

The Committee found that there was sexual contact between Dr. Minnes and Ms A in Dr. Minnes' living quarters attached to the infirmary. Ms A had informally approached Dr. Minnes with respect to a foot injury. Dr. Minnes told her to drop by the infirmary. A few days later Ms A encountered Dr. Minnes on what turned out to be his last day at camp. After casual conversation, he invited her to come to his cabin that evening to look at her foot and to have a glass of juice. Ms A attended the infirmary; Dr. Minnes was in his living quarters.

Ms A entered his living quarters. Dr. Minnes made progressively intrusive advances towards her, enquiring about her sexual activities with her boyfriend, inviting her to sit on the couch beside him, putting his arm around her shoulder, placing her hand on his genitals over his pants, removing her shirt, fondling her breasts, rubbing himself against her buttocks, removing her shorts and attempting to remove her underwear. When Dr. Minnes attempted to remove her underwear, Ms A told him she had to leave as it was late and she had responsibilities and left the cabin.

The Committee found that the brief informal conversation about Ms A's foot did not establish a doctor-patient relationship. While Dr. Minnes, as camp physician, was responsible for providing medical service to both children and staff at the camp, he did not provide any medical services to Ms A. She did not follow his initial advice to come to the infirmary prior to the date in July 2007, and did not attend that evening out of concern for her foot (which was getting better). Dr. Minnes never properly examined her foot, he gave no medical advice and did not prescribe treatment and no record was made of Dr. Minnes' brief discussion with Ms A about her foot.

While the Committee has found that there was no doctor patient relationship, Dr. Minnes was nevertheless the camp doctor and 47 years old and Ms A was a 17-year-old camp counsellor, and he was in a position of authority vis-à-vis Ms A.  The Committee finds on the evidence that Dr. Minnes' conduct with Ms A, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional.

A penalty hearing has been scheduled for December 2, 2014.

Dr. Colin Peter Sinclair (no practice address).  On October 15, 2014, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Sinclair committed acts of professional misconduct, in that he has been found guilty of an offence that is relevant to his suitability to practise; he has engaged in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct; and he has engaged in conduct unbecoming a physician. Dr. Sinclair admitted to the allegations.

Criminal Charges under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and the Criminal Code

On June 20, 2008, Dr. Sinclair was charged with five counts of possession of controlled substances for the purposes of trafficking contrary to section 5(2) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  The controlled substances were prescription narcotics including oxycodone and hydromorphone.

On January 22, 2008, Dr. Sinclair was charged in an 89 count indictment under the Criminal Code alleging 52 counts of fraud and 37 counts of drawing a document without authority. The allegations related to issuing prescriptions for narcotics for patients who did not receive the prescription and for billing insurers and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) for such prescriptions.

Criminal Proceedings and Admissions in the Superior Court of Justice

In the criminal proceedings, which took place between 2011 and 2012, Dr. Sinclair admitted that he committed the offences for which he was charged.

With respect to the Trafficking Offences, the admitted facts establish, among other things, that:

  1. On June 19, 2008, Dr. Sinclair had in his medical office 14,092 tablets of controlled drugs (oxycodone and hydromorphone) with a street value of $462,880.  The controlled substances were not required for Dr. Sinclair's medical practice and were in his possession contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; and,
  2. On June 19, 2008, Dr. Sinclair had in his home:
    1. cash exceeding $400,000 CAD (the total Canadian funds found in his basement was $50,470 and the total of U.S. funds found in the basement was $366,560); and,
    2. sports memorabilia with an estimated value of $500,000.

With respect to the Fraud Offences, the admitted facts establish, among other things, that:

  1. Between January 2005 and April 2008, Dr. Sinclair prepared prescriptions for narcotics for 37 of his patients and presented the prescriptions to a pharmacy in Ontario.  Dr. Sinclair had included notations on some of these prescriptions;
  2. In each case, the patient named in the prescription was not actually seen by Dr. Sinclair in the period in question. The prescriptions written for those patients were later filled by a person other than the named patient at the pharmacy, and the named patient did not receive the prescribed drugs.
  3. In the ordinary course, Dr. Sinclair's patients received drug benefits from services such as Green Shield, Assure, Blue Cross and the MOHTLC.  The insurers and/or the MOHLTC paid monies to either or both the patients named in the prescription or the pharmacy issuing the prescription.  Both the insurers and the MOHLTC paid the monies believing the prescription for narcotics written by Dr. Sinclair for his patients were legitimate. Neither the insurers nor MOHLTC would have paid any amount had they known the prescriptions for narcotics were drawn without proper authority.
  4. The following entities were defrauded:

Greenshield:

$145,951.70

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care:

$62,381.00

Assure:

$4,163.00

Ontario Blue Cross:

$10.90

Dr. Sinclair acknowledged his admissions in the criminal proceeding, and that he committed the offences for which he was charged, and adopted these admissions in relation to the Discipline Committee proceeding.

Criminal Convictions and Findings of Guilt

Dr. Sinclair was convicted of the following:

  1. 5 counts of possessing a substance included in Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the purposes of trafficking;
  2. 25 counts of fraud over $5,000 contrary to section 380(1) of the Criminal Code;
  3. 27 counts of fraud under $5,000 contrary to section 380(1) of the Criminal Code (4 counts of which were subsequently withdrawn);
  4. 37 counts of drawing a document without authority contrary to section 374(a) of the Criminal Code (the conviction of which was stayed).

On February 8, 2013, Dr. Sinclair was sentenced to:

  1. a period of jail for five years;
  2. a restitution order in favour of:
    1. Greenshield in the amount of $145,951.70
    2. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in the amount of $62,819.20
    3. Assure in the amount of $4,163.39
    4. Ontario Blue Cross in the amount of $10.90

Dr. Sinclair's certificate of registration expired on August 15, 2013.

The Committee ordered a public reprimand and directed that the Registrar revoke Dr. Sinclair's certificate of registration as of the date of this Order.