College Announces Decision Regarding Daniel Purcell, PT
March 10, 2021
On February 17, 2021, the Hearing Committee of the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists (the “NSCP”) accepted a Settlement Agreement advanced by the NSCP and Daniel Purcell, and recommended by the Investigation Committee of the NSCP pursuant to Section 50 of the Physiotherapy Act.
The Settlement Agreement contained agreed facts, the allegation against Mr. Purcell, the admissions of Mr. Purcell, and the agreed disposition.
Background and Overview
The matter arose out of a complaint initiated by the NSCP Registrar on April 22, 2020, alleging that Mr. Purcell continued to provide non-urgent physiotherapy care to patients on an in-person basis in contravention of the order issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (the “Order”) and NSCP guidance.
Pursuant to the Order, physiotherapists in Nova Scotia were restricted to providing in-person care on an emergency or urgent basis effective March 23, 2020. The Order permitted physiotherapists, to provide virtual care for non-emergency/elective care services. On March 24, 2020, the NSCP emailed a guidance document entitled Physiotherapy Services During COVID-19 to all registered physiotherapists in Nova Scotia, to assist in implementing the Order. The registrar reviewed the guidance document with Mr. Purcell during a telephone conversation on April 3, 2020.
During the investigation process, the Investigation Committee imposed an interim restriction that only allowed Mr. Purcell to provide virtual care for the duration of any Orders that limited in person care in any way due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2020, contrary to the interim restriction imposed by the Investigation Committee regarding virtual care, Mr. Purcell was observed providing in-person care. Mr. Purcell characterized his breaches of the interim restriction as inadvertence due to his mistaken belief that the interim restriction no longer applied to him to due the Chief Medical officer announcing on June 5, 2020 that self-regulated professions could provide in person or virtual care services so long as they followed the Health Protection Act Order and their sector specific plans. This is despite the interim restriction stating Mr. Purcell was restricted to providing virtual care for the duration of any CMO Orders that limit in person care in any way due to the current pandemic.
Allegations against Mr. Purcell
The following allegations were referred by the Investigation Committee of the NSCP to the Hearing Committee:
Mr. Purcell engaged in professional misconduct by:
- failing to adhere to the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Order effective March 23, 2020 restricting the provision of in-person care for regulated health professions when he continued to provide non-urgent care to patients in-person after March 23, 2020;
- failing to adhere to the NSCP’s Physiotherapy Services During COVID-19 guidance effective March 24, 2020 restricting the provision of in-person care for physiotherapists when he continued to provide non-urgent care to patients in-person after March 24, 2020; and
- breaching the Investigation Committee’s interim restriction effective May 8, 2020 when he continued to provide care to patients in-person following the restriction of his licence.
Mr. Purcell admitted the allegations forwarded to the Hearing Committee and admitted such allegations constituted professional misconduct as set out in the Physiotherapy Act.
The Settlement Agreement provides for the following disposition:
- Mr. Purcell is reprimanded for engaging in professional misconduct as set out in the allegations;
- Mr. Purcell will complete a four (4) week period of suspension to be served intermittently, pursuant to the following schedule:
- two (2) consecutive weeks to be served within four (4) weeks of the date of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision; and
- two (2) consecutive weeks to be served within four (4) months of the date of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision;
- Mr. Purcell is fined in the amount of $2,000.00. The fine is payable to the NSCP within 30 days of the date of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision; and
- Mr. Purcell shall, within 30 days of the date of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision, complete a reflective essay of not less than 750 words acceptable to the NSCP Executive Director.
Mr. Purcell shall pay costs in the amount of $10,000.00 as a contribution toward the NSCP’s costs incurred in this matter, which are payable to NSCP in equal quarterly installments within (2) years of the date of receipt of the Hearing Committee’s decision.
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