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College releases Hearing Committee Decision in Dr. David Russell case

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia announced today the release of a Hearing Committee Decision incorporating a Settlement Agreement in the case of Dr. David Russell, a Family Physician in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia.

Dr. Russell has agreed that he is guilty of professional misconduct and/or professional incompetence arising out of physical or mental incapacity. He has also agreed that he has a substance dependency which has adversely impacted his ability to practice medicine.

Specifically, he has admitted to the following allegations contained in the Settlement Agreement:

Commencing in or about September 2003, he used narcotics or other controlled substances by taking oral doses of Demerol, Percocet and MS-Contin from office supplies of these medications intended for patients, and/or from medications that had been returned to his office by patients.

In or about the Fall of 2003, he began using other opiates, including injectable Demerol and MS-Contin.

On or about January 14, 2004, following a self-injection of morphine, he took a barbiturate that had been returned by a patient, causing him to be impaired while seeing patients and causing him to be taken to the emergency department of a hospital.

Following an agreement he reached with the College to refrain from taking narcotics or other controlled substances, and agreeing to attend random urine monitoring to prove such abstinence, he breached such agreement in that on or about August 19, 2004, he tested positive for cannabinoids.

In accordance with the Settlement Agreement, Dr. Russell’s license will remain suspended effective Thursday, November 24, 2005. For three months following this date, he will be required to submit to random tests for prohibited substances. If he maintains negative results during this period, his license suspension will be lifted and he will be eligible to re-apply for a license to practice medicine.

Dr. Russell will be subject to random testing for prohibited drugs for five years following the execution of the Settlement Agreement. If this testing uncovers evidence of further prohibited drug use, or if there is any other violation of the Settlement Agreement, his license will be immediately suspended and his case will be referred to a Hearing Committee of the College.

Dr. Russell has agreed to abstain from prohibited substances, to surrender his authority to prescribe controlled substances, and to refrain from self-prescribing or prescribing for family members. He will visit regularly with a family physician and psychiatrist, who will document and report on his compliance with his recommended treatment.

Dr. Russell has agreed to pay $25,000 as a contribution toward the costs incurred by the College in its investigation and resolution of this matter.

A copy of the Settlement Agreement is available HERE. Sections of the Settlement Agreement have been removed to protect Dr. Russell’s confidentiality.