A Kamsack, Sask., doctor who was charged with unprofessional conduct related to prescribing opioids has agreed to no longer practice medicine.
Dr. Murray Davies was charged by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) in March 2018.
On July 17, 2019, Davies signed an undertaking with the CPSS. The undertaking is not an admission of guilt, but Davies agreed to give up his licence to practice medicine and never practice again in Saskatchewan or anywhere else in the world.
The CPSS agreed not to proceed further with their investigation or charges in exchange for Davies complying with the terms of his undertaking.
This case would have gone to a contested hearing if the undertaking wasn’t signed, a process CPSS legal counsel Bryan Salte said would have been expensive.
“We were gathering expert evidence to lead a hearing. It was only after we were able to reach an understanding with Dr. Davies’ legal counsel that he would undertake, that he would not practice medicine, we decided we would accept that,” Salte said.
In their initial charges, the CPSS presented 20 pieces of evidence to back up the prescription charge. These included continuing to prescribe opioids after being advised patients had received prescriptions in the same drug classification from another prescriber, and prescribing Prescription Review Program Medications (PRP) to patients without an appropriate assessment for substance abuse disorder.
“Seldom do we actually get to the point of charging someone with unprofessional conduct,” Salte said.
The CPSS has typically used the PRP to track the prescription of opioids and other potentially abused drugs.
“We’re about to have better technology to be able to review the information and try to identify issues that are of greater concern,” Salte added.
“Primarily, though, that program functions on an educational basis. Primarily, what it will do is provide feedback to physicians and suggestions for change. It’s only in a rare circumstance that it results in a charge of unprofessional conduct.
“That’s sort of a last resort to try and deal with concerns that aren’t addressed in some other way.”
If Davies were to practice medicine again, it could result in charges of breach of an undertaking, practicing medicine without a licence and reactivate the college charges.
Addictions are an issue in Kamsack and the surrounding area — not just opioids, but crystal meth and cocaine too, according to New Beginnings Outreach manager Wanda Cote.
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In an interview with Global News in April 2018, Cote said the outcome of the Davies’ case would do little to change the reality of substance issues in the community.
She pointed to issues with Davies first being raised in 2012 and 2013. She said at the time, provincial health officials took little action.
Following a 2013 Aboriginal People’s Television Network investigation in allegations around Davies’ practice, Health Canada removed his ability to prescribe methadone in 2014.