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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Dr. David Ashby’s lengthy career as a respected surgeon in P.E.I. will likely end in shame.
Ashby has admitted to professional misconduct including having a sexual relationship with a male patient almost 30 years his junior.
The admission was made Friday at a public hearing held in Charlottetown to determine if the 72-year-old doctor had committed an act or acts of professional misconduct under the province’s Medical Act.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of P.E.I., which is responsible for licensing, investigating complaints and disciplining physicians, referred the case to a board of inquiry.
The board, for the most part, adopted the sanctions proposed jointly by the college’s legal counsel and Ashby’s lawyer.
The board recommends the Council of the College revoke Ashby’s licence for two years before he is allowed to reapply for it. Ashby would be required to receive proper counselling to address doctor-patient boundary issues, which he admitted to violating.
Proposed sanctions also include Ashby paying a $10,000 fine and making a $30,000 contribution towards costs of dealing with his case.
The Council of the College, which is given responsibility by P.E.I. legislation under the Medical Act of Prince Edward Island to regulate the profession, cannot rule on the recommended penalties until its next meeting, in early February.
“Believe me, the last three months have been a nightmare."
-Dr. David Ashby
Ron MacLeod, chairman of the board of inquiry, strongly advised Ashby to cease practising immediately.
He said the doctor’s case involved “very serious matters’’ and described Ashby’s actions as an “affront’’ to patient-doctor boundaries.
MacLeod also told Ashby his guilty plea likely saved him from having his licence to practise permanently revoked.
That, however, appears to be a moot point.
Ashby’s lawyer told the board that having the doctor’s licence revoked for even one year will spell the end of his career, which has seen him practising on P.E.I. since 1977.
An emotional and contrite Ashby read from a prepared statement saying he “publicly and sincerely’’ apologizes to his wife, children and the public for his actions.
He said getting involved with someone other than his wife was the worst mistake of his life.
Ashby admitted to violating a doctor-patient boundary through the development of a personal and, later, sexual relationship with a patient, which led to providing the patient with financial and other support and improperly prescribing anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications.
He also admitted to prescribing anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications to the patient without proper diagnosis and being outside the scope of his medical practice.
Ashby’s lawyer noted the doctor began his relationship with the patient as a friendship, but it developed into a consensual sexual one before reverting to a friendship again during the past few years.
Gordon MacKay, the lawyer representing the College of Physicians and Surgeons, noted there was a “significant power imbalance’’ due to age and social position even when the man was no longer a patient of Ashby’s but maintained a friendly relationship. MacKay said the patient had “vulnerability.’’
Ashby said the last time he met his longtime secret partner on Sept. 18 the pair seemed to be on very good terms. So, Ashby was jolted to learn soon after that he was the subject of professional misconduct allegations with complaints raised by doctors.
“Believe me, the last three months have been a nightmare,’’ he said.