Cape Breton doctor reprimanded for verbally abusing nurse


A family physician in Cape Breton has been reprimanded for using abusive language with an emergency room nurse.


Problems began for Dr. Eugene Ignacio when he sent a patient to the emergency room at Northside General Hospital in North Sydney, N.S., in March of last year.

The only order supplied to the woman was the word “angina.” The nurse called Ignacio to see if the patient needed to see the emergency room physician on call. Ignacio said no. The nurse then said she had no orders for the patient. Again, according to a disciplinary decision from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, Ignacio’s answer was “no.”

When the nurse indicated she couldn’t do anything without orders, Ignacio replied, “Can you let me eat my God damned lunch and stop bothering me?” He then slammed down the phone.

Complaint filed with human resources

A co-worker called the nurse’s supervisor because she was upset and crying after her conversation. The co-worker filed a respectful workplace complaint against Ignacio.

According to the college, Ignacio eventually came into the emergency room to write orders and offered a brief apology to the nurse.

A week later, Ignacio learned his conduct had been made the subject of a complaint to human resources. According to the college, Ignacio confronted the nurse, screaming at her, “You’re a f–kin’ bitch, why don’t ya report that one?” The woman was curled up in her chair, crying. The outburst was witnessed by three other staff members.

In deciding to reprimand him, the investigation committee of the college noted that Ignacio was under a lot of stress at the time of his outburst and that the nurse had been the fifth person to call him in a short period of time to inquire about the same patient.

Previous complaint

The investigation also found that Ignacio was the subject of a complaint in 2009 after he yelled at a patient. The college said he did not seek help after that outburst.

In his reply to the college, Ignacio noted, “This has also been difficult for me personally as I recognize my failure to maintain professionalism and civility does not help me in providing the best care to my patients.”

As for his behaviour last year, the college didn’t mince words.

“Dr. Ignacio’s outburst in the emergency department was unprofessional, happened in a public setting, and could have negatively affected the public’s confidence in the medical profession.”

In addition to the reprimand, Ignacio has been ordered to get professional support.