A group of obstetricians and gynecologists who work at the Royal Victoria Hospital is suing the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) for setting what they claim are discriminatory quotas.
New hospital rules are forcing doctors to perform a limited number of deliveries per month, which affects some obstetricians and gynecologists more than others.
Dr. Alice Benjamin, Dr. Robert Koby, Dr. Dawn Johansson and Dr. Andrew Mok are asking for $200,000 in compensation.
But according to their lawyer, what’s more important to them than the money, is that the hospital put a stop to the new quotas of 14 deliveries a month.
The doctors behind the lawsuit systematically go over that limit.
“Being forced to do a maximum of 14 deliveries per fiscal period – which is 28 days – it’s an impossible task to accomplish,” lawyer Christine Kark said.
The four doctors who launched the lawsuit are the only obstetricians and gynecologists at the hospital who deliver all their patients’ babies. The others share their patients and are seemingly not affected by the new quota rules adopted in June.
“There’s no reason for the hospital to treat them differently,” Kark said. “That’s why the rules are unfair and we’re attacking them in court.”
Three of the four doctors in question have already received disciplinary warnings and now face a suspension if they continue to go over the quota.
Further sanctions would clearly affect patients, who in some cases are already being forced to deliver in other hospitals.
“If this (sanction) occurs a second time, they will be suspended for two weeks and have no access to the birthing centre in the Royal Victoria Hospital,” Kark deplored .
The MUHC would not comment on this specific case citing legal proceedings, but the hospital released the following statement in response to the lawsuit.
“It is important to mention that the MUHC’s clinical plan calls for a commitment to increase the volume of high-risk pregnancies, while reducing the number of low-risk, at the MUHC.”
But the obstetricians and gynecologists targeted by the quotas claim to already treat high-risk pregnancies.
Patients’ rights advocate Paul Brunet said he worries quotas are increasingly being used to meet budgetary demands and he doubts the practice would survive a court challenge.
“The question of quotas must be addressed by the court of justice so eventually we can learn about the legality of government because it’s acting more and more with quotas,” Brunet said.
Both sides will meet in court on Nov. 4 unless they manage reach a settlement before that.
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