A Cape Breton gynecologist will be suspended for five months and ordered to take ethics training after being found guilty of professional misconduct related to separate allegations from two women who were once under his care.
Dr. Manivasan Moodley must also pay $325,000 over five years through instalments of $5,000 per month.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia said the money will go toward the costs of an investigation and hearing into Moodley's actions.
Moodley began working in the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney in March 2017. Allegations about his behaviour surfaced later that fall.
"This is a case where Dr. Moodley did not respect the sexual boundaries required by the standard and asked questions and made comments of a sexual nature," a hearing committee of the college said in a decision on sanction and costs.
Sexual and personal questions
Moodley also visited the workplace of one of the complainants for no medical reason, the committee determined.
The women, whose names are protected by a publication ban, said Moodley asked them sexual and personal questions during appointments that were not relevant to their medical issues.
The committee found Moodley commented inappropriately about the physical appearance of one of the women.
The other woman said Moodley violated patient boundaries by seeking her out at her work site.
Panel decision not unanimous
Moodley was successful in contesting four of 11 allegations against him, including an accusation of improper physical touching.
The decision of the five-person panel into Moodley's conduct was not unanimous. One hearing member, Dr. Naeem Khan, said he believed all the allegations against Moodley should have been dismissed.
The committee said it exercised discretion in the awarding costs based on several factors, including the financial impact it would have on Moodley and the fact he successfully contested some of the allegations.
Some of the costs ordered for the college's expenses were reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
Monitor to be assigned
Moodley's suspension is set to begin at a time agreed upon by the college. He must also complete ethics training before returning to his practice.
"The purpose of a suspension is not to punish Dr. Moodley, but to correct his behaviour and assure the public that the medical profession takes this misconduct seriously and does not minimize or excuse the crossing of sexual boundaries in the physician-patient relationship," the committee stated.
Following his suspension, Moodley must work under a monitor or an approved person to ensure he is practising according to the restrictions placed upon his licence.
The monitor must have an unobstructed view of any procedure performed by Moodley, and this requirement must be featured on signs posted in his waiting and examination rooms.
Victim impact statement
In a victim impact statement, one of the women said she finds it uncomfortable to go to the hospital and avoids doing so as much as possible. She said no doctor's appointment will ever be the same after her experience with Moodley.
The other woman did not provide a statement, but testified she experienced feelings of helplessness months after her appointment with Moodley.
For his part, Moodley initially told the hearing committee he did not accept the use of a practice monitor. As a fee-for-service physician, Moodley said the sign posting and publicity would negatively impact his patient load.
He also argued that the amount he was ordered to pay to cover the costs of the investigation and hearing should be reduced on the basis of lost income due to the suspension. But the hearing committee found Moodley did not provide evidence of his financial circumstances.
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