Former Cape Breton doctor reprimanded for large opioid prescriptions

A former Cape Breton doctor who said he prescribed hefty amounts of opoids as he closed his practice because he worried his patients would be without their painkillers has been reprimanded by the province's physician regulator.

Dr. David Soussou told the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons he decided to write large prescriptions because he couldn't find a replacement doctor for his Glace Bay practice, according to a decision released this week by the college's investigation committee.

Soussou is no longer licensed to practice in Nova Scotia. The college on Tuesday said he is no longer in Nova Scotia, but it didn't know where he is or if he is licensed to practise elsewhere.

Monitoring program

Soussou closed his family practice in December 2014. Three months earlier, the province's prescription monitoring program had sent a letter to Soussou asking about his prescription practices following a routine review.

It did not get a reply, however. In early 2015, the monitoring program asked the college to help track down Soussou but he had left the province.

The monitoring program later learned Soussou had prescribed large amounts of opioids to four patients. Some of them had misused opioids in the past or were also on other medications, according to the college's decision.

No follow-up care arranged

A college investigation committee looked at the charts of those patients and concluded the prescribing practices were "a risk to public safety."

"These charts indicated Dr. Soussou prescribed large amounts of opioids without using an opioid risk tool, and prescribed short-acting opioids for prolonged periods," the committee said.

"When Dr. Soussou closed his practice, he extended prescriptions for large amounts of opioids to patients for whom no follow-up care had been arranged."

When he was interviewed by the committee, Soussou said he couldn't find another doctor to replace him as he closed his practice and that he believed providing larger prescriptions to his patients was the best solution.

​Prescriptions not typical

The investigation was hampered by the fact Soussou had closed his practice and his patient files were either in storage or distributed to other doctors. The college hired an auditor to look into his patient files.

The auditor raised concerns about the high number of opioids prescribed. Soussou told the auditor he instructed local pharmacies to only dispense the drugs on a monthly basis but the auditor could find no evidence of those instructions.

The auditor found that the high prescribing was not typical of Soussou's practice and only applied to the end of his practice.

The college has reprimanded Soussou and ordered him to take additional training.

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