Following the revocation of his medical license for errors in image interpretation, radiologist Darius Tsatsi has hired political activist and free speech lawyer Douglas Christie and filed suit against the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the province’s Minister of Health and Sunrise Health Region for defamation.
In 2008, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan notified Sunrise Health Region (the regional health authority) that the college had “significant concerns” about the skill and knowledge of Tsatsi, who at the time was a radiologist in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The Sunrise regional health authority proceeded to review approximately 70,000 images interpreted by Tsatsi.
Based on the review, the regional health authority determined that roughly 2 percent of Tsatsi’s studies required changes to patient management. After agreeing not to practice over the course of the investigation, Tsatsi permitted his medical license to expire in 2009. In 2010, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan permanently banned the physician from practicing in the province.
Last week, local papers reported that Tsatsi had filed suit against Sunrise Health Region, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health, Don McMorris, for defamation.
“Dr. Tsatsi was held up in a major way to public ridicule. He left the province as a result,” Douglas Christie, Tsatsi’s counsel, told Health Imaging News. Christie is known for arguing high-profile free speech cases before Canada’s Supreme Court and for founding the Western Block Party, a separatist political party in British Columbia.
“If people are conducting an investigation, in my opinion, they should wait for the outcome of the investigation before making any statements,” Christie said.
“I do not believe we had any part to play in the public nature of that [investigation] at that stage except that our registrar did participate in a media release at that time about what was being done,” Bryan Salte, associate registrar and legal counsel for the College of Physicians and Surgeons told Health Imaging News.
“Our responsibility is primarily to ensure that physicians have the appropriate skill and knowledge and are behaving ethically.” Salte said the college had not received the claim and therefore could not comment directly on the allegations.
Tsatsi, who moved to South Africa following the investigation, is suing the organization and provincial government for monetary damages and to receive an apology. “What I would like to know and what we’ll be seeking to establish is: What are the criteria for acceptable levels of error?” Christie explained.