Report of the Independent Committee of Inquiry
Into the Situations of
Drs. Gabrielle Horne, Michael Goodyear & Bassam A. Nassar
at the Capital District Health Authority
& Dalhousie University
(Hamilton – January 12, 2016) An investigation into the handling of disputes involving three professors of medicine at Dalhousie University calls for a fundamental reform of the relationship between the University and the province’s health authority.
The report, prepared by an independent committee of inquiry appointed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, examined the cases of oncologist Michael Goodyear, cardiologist Gabrielle Horne and medical chemist Bassam Nassar – all of which began more than a decade ago.
The report found in all three cases there has been a denial of justice and serious damage to the physicians’ careers due to the systemic failure of bylaws, policy, process and academic administrative culture at the Capital District Health Authority (now the Nova Scotia Health Authority) and Dalhousie University.
In particular, the report found that: (1) none of the essential requirements protecting academic freedom for academic physicians at Dalhousie University and Capital District Health Authority was met; (2) the important concept of collegiality was misunderstood and misapplied; (3) the high standard required to ensure fairness when considering variation or suspension of physicians’ hospital privileges was not met; (4) fair and timely formal dispute resolution processes were lacking.
The report also noted that although all three doctors were exonerated of the charges against them, and no misconduct was ever established in a fair hearing, all suffered serious damage to their careers.
"There are many lessons to be learned from these unacceptable events," said Dr. Allan Sharp, Chair of the Independent Committee of Inquiry. "The major systemic changes we recommend are intended to prevent such events being repeated in Halifax or at any other medical school and teaching hospital."
He added that the recent creation of the Nova Scotia Heath Authority provides an ideal opportunity to review and implement the detailed recommendations of the Independent Committee of Inquiry.
To date, only one of the cases considered by this Inquiry has been properly resolved. Outstanding claims for damages by Dr. Horne remain before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and there is ongoing injustice to Dr. Goodyear, whose medical oncology career at CDHA was terminated despite the finding by the CDHA Board that the allegations against him did not justify the suspension of his privileges.
"Justice has been too long delayed," Dr. Sharp said. "Our report strongly recommends that a fair settlement be negotiated in a timely manner with Dr. Horne, and Dr. Goodyear."
The full report of the Committee is available at http://dal-cdhainquiry.ca
Dr. Allan Sharp
Chair of the Independent Committee of Inquiry