Former local doctor reprimanded

HALIFAX: A doctor who served Strait area patients was reprimanded for an incident three years ago.

Dr. Sockalingam Senthillmohan received a reprimand from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia regarding an incident at the Strait-Richmond Hospital in 2014.

Dr. Senthillmohan was a doctor working in the emergency department at the Evanston hospital in 2014. In early January of that year, stated the decision, he attended to a patient who was complaining of increasing pain in his right shoulder, neck and back, and was finding it difficult to walk.

The decision stated Dr. Senthillmohan relied on a history provided by a nurse and did not take a patient history or perform a physical examination. He also did not order an x-ray, as was requested by the patient on the recommendation of a chiropractor. Instead, stated the decision, Dr. Senthillmohan determined the patient’s issues would be better addressed by his family doctor and contacted a family physician to arrange for an appointment later that evening.

After being released from the hospital and prior to attending the appointment with the family physician, the patient’s legs gave out and he fell backwards, hitting his head and losing consciousness. The patient was transferred back to the ER by ambulance with neck brace and backboard where he was again seen by Dr. Senthillmohan. Dr. Sentihillmohan ordered x-rays, and then verbally transferred care to another physician. The second physician discharged the patient following “a limited assessment,” according to the decision.

Two days later, the patient fell at home, struck his head, and was again taken to hospital by ambulance. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with traumatic incomplete quadriplegia.

Dr. Senthillmohan chose not to reapply for a medical license in Nova Scotia at the end of 2015 and still does not hold one in the province. The investigation committee saw fit to reprimand Dr. Senthillmohan for failing to provide care in keeping with the standards of the profession, including his failure to document his encounters with the patient; failing to document his review of the patient’s x-rays before clearing the cervical spine; failing to recognize an inadequate x-ray; and failing to document transfer of patient care.

If Dr. Senthillmohan were to reapply for a Nova Scotia medical licence, he will be required to complete a “record-keeping course approved by the registrar, to address his charting deficiencies” and then obtain a clinical assessment license and “practice in an ER setting under the supervision of a physician” approved by the college for a period of four weeks. He must also cover the cost of the supervision.

“The results of the clinical assessment will be provided to the registration department of the college, and if considered satisfactory by the registration committee, Dr. Senthillmohan will then be eligible to apply for a defined license if he meets the criteria for that license at that time,” stated the decision.

“If the assessment is not deemed satisfactory by the registration committee, Dr. Senthillmohan will remain ineligible for a defined licence and if granted a defined licence, he will be subject to a re-audit six months after the supervision period ends.”

Dr. Senthillmohan was also ordered to reimburse the college for a portion of the investigation expenses.

The circumstances of the case are similar to a matter involving Dr. James Alexander Collins, who, in May of 2016, was also reprimanded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia due to an incident in January 2014. In Collins’ case, a patient in his mid-50s attended the emergency department of the Strait Richmond Hospital who visited the department earlier the same day because of increasing shoulder, neck, and back pain, along with difficulty walking.

According to the decision by the college, Collins stated he saw the patient at around 8:30 p.m. and conducted “a limited neurological examination.”

Collins was ordered to complete a college-approved record keeping course, be subject to a re-audit of his ER practice six months after completing the course with direction from the physician performance department of the college, and pay a contribution toward the college’s costs in the matter to reimburse the college for the cost of the audit and expert review, as well as toward the remaining costs of the investigation.