N.S. doctor acquitted of fraud, unlawful possession of narcotics
Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones arrives at provincial court in Bridgewater, N.S. on April 3, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Friday, October 13, 2017 12:28PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 13, 2017 3:18PM ADT
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. -- A Halifax-area doctor has been acquitted of fraud and unlawful possession of narcotics, but remains unable to practice as she faces a professional disciplinary probe.
Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones was acquitted Friday in Bridgewater provincial court of two counts of fraud, one count of unlawful possession of oxycodone and one count of fraudulently drawing a document related to prescriptions in the name of a patient, said her lawyer, Stan MacDonald.
Jones, of Tantallon, N.S., was pleased with the decision, MacDonald said.
The Crown had previously dropped charges of trafficking oxycodone and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
When police charged Jones last year, it was alleged Jones had prescribed 46,000 oxycodone and OxyNeo pills over an 18-month period.
Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said he had recieved a complaint against Jones in August 2015 and forwarded the information to police.
The college launched its own investigation and her licence to practice medical was suspended, but the probe was put on hold as the criminal process played out.
"She is suspended as our investigation is ongoing, and her suspension will remain in place until Dr. Jones is able to convince the investigation committee that the suspension need not be in place," said Grant in an interview Friday.
Grant said a committee comprised of medical professionals and members of the public will conduct the college's investigation.
He stressed that the questions that were asked by the court are different than the ones being asked by his organization.
"The question the college now has to ask is whether Dr. Jones' care and treatment of this patient and her conduct was in keeping with the standard of the profession," said Grant.
"We have to ask whether her conduct amounted to professional misconduct, whether her care amounted to incompetent care or whether her conduct amounted to conduct unbecoming a physician."
Grant said there are a broad range of decisions the investigation committee could arrive at, including referring the matter to a public hearing.
Jones had pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges.
Prosecutor Josh Bryson has said the Crown previously withdrew the trafficking and possession charges after realizing there wasn't a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction. He said that after hearing from four witnesses, prosecutors realized they didn't have sufficient evidence to show the drugs weren't being provided to patient Merle Chase, who was receiving painkillers for a number of injuries he'd suffered over the years.
Chase had testified that he did not receive the bulk of the prescriptions for OxyNeo, even though the patient expense report showed they were prescribed to him.
But he was not consistent in his testimony about how many OxyNeo prescriptions he actually received from Jones, how many pills he took and the last time he took them.
-- By Aly Thomson in Halifax