Last month, CTV Montreal released a disturbing video of an emergency physicial in Lachute, Quebec being arrested by the SQ provincial police force for obstruction of justice.
His apparent crime was failing to release medical infrmation about a patient without a warrant.
The doctor was forcefully arrested and handcuffed in full public view of the ER waiting room. Worse, as he was the only physician on duty, he was removed abruptly from clinical service putting a whole community at risk.
Fifteen minutes after being held in the police patrol car, he was released without charge.
The doctor has since resigned from the hospital and moved to Ontario.
This is a disturbing and what I thought was an isolated case. Informal discussions with colleagues in other jurisdictions, however, has suggested that while arrest may be unusual, harrassment is not.
It is suprising that this incident has not generated more reaction.
Maintenance of patient confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of medical practice and must be vigorously defended.
All emergency personnel should take the opportunity to write their respective Solictor Generals and highlighting this case, call for an educational program of front line police officers on the correct and lawful approach to dealing with front line workers when seeking medical information.
Furthermore, we should be all more vocal in our outrage of removing an emergency physician from his duties and placing others at risk.
This is an aggressive act that cannot be allowed to stand.