Estevan doctor with history of unprofessional conduct slapped with 2-month suspension

Brandon Harder

Regina Leader-Post

An Estevan doctor, whose known history of unprofessional conduct dates back more than a decade, has again been penalized for breaking the rules.

Friday, the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) decided to suspend Dr. Mehdi Horri’s right to practice medicine for a period of two months, beginning Nov. 1.

This comes after Horri was charged with and admitted to breaching an undertaking by seeing a female patient on March 20 without the “presence of a female practice monitor,” and further breaching the undertaking by not reporting the initial breach to the CPSS.

In addition to the suspension, he will be responsible for covering costs associated with preparation for Friday’s hearing, and he will be subject to an in-person reprimand at a date yet to be determined.

The Council has yet to prepare official written reasons for its decision rendered Friday, but those are to be forthcoming at a later date.

The decision followed submissions on the matter made by lawyers representing the CPSS and Horri, respectively, during the Council meeting held in Saskatoon.

The penalty imposed was within the range suggested by Evan Thompson, who made submissions on behalf of the CPSS — this in contrast to the request of Horri’s legal team, who advocated for no suspension.

Lawyer Matthew Wiens, representing Horri, outlined the circumstances of the breaches.

The doctor was said to have seen a four-year-old patient for a followup appointment. The patient’s father was with her, there was no negative impact to the patient, and no complaint was brought forward, Wiens said.

The incident was a result of a momentary “lapse” in attention, with Horri not realizing the practice monitor was not present, Wiens told the Council. In setting up his protocols, the doctor hadn’t anticipated a situation where the practice monitor would confuse a patient’s gender because of their first name, he added.

Further, Wiens said the doctor “regrettably” didn’t report the incident to the College, because he understood the practice monitor would be doing so.

Thompson asked the Council to look at the breach in the context.

“I will submit that the history and context of Dr. Horri’s coming into this undertaking speak to his responsibility for then breaching it. That cannot be ignored,” he said.

Thompson commented on all of the steps that were taken to ensure Horri had understood the terms of the undertaking, including a session where the agreement was gone over with him, clause by clause, and a letter sent to him, outlining the discussion about the clauses.

“Dr. Horri was, or certainly should’ve been, by virtue of his previous discipline history, acutely aware of the importance of complying with an undertaking to the letter,” he said.

Wiens suggested that a reprimand and the payment of costs would be sufficient punishment to accomplish goals of protecting the public, maintaining the integrity of the profession, deterring Horri from similar conduct in the future, and deterring others in the profession from the same.

His rationale included the position that the current undertaking Horri is subject to works, as evidenced by the proceedings, and that the public nature of the whole affair had impacted the doctor personally, in addition to publicly demonstrating that Saskatchewan physicians are held to a high standard, generally.

He then touched on Horri’s background, noting a 2010 incident where Horri entered a sexual relationship with a woman who had recently been his patient. Horri had later acknowledged this conduct would reasonably be regarded as “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”

“Dr. Horri can’t change the fact that, over or close to a decade ago, he made a mistake by entering into a romantic relationship with a former vulnerable patient,” Wiens said, noting the professional fallout from the incident.

But Horri has been working hard to regain the trust of the CPSS, the lawyer said, noting the doctor is committed to rehabilitation, and wants to continue to work with patients “who he cares a great deal about.”

A suspension would be “purely punitive” and would not allow him to serve patients in an already underserved community, the doctor’s lawyer went on.

However, should a suspension be issued, Wiens asked that it be delayed to allow Horri to properly communicate with his patients and make arrangements.

That final request, the Council evidently saw fit to grant.