July 12, 2009

Suspended Nova Scotia Physician Thomas Crawford (a/k/a Tom Crawford)


On June 18, 2009, the Hearing Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia (the “College”) accepted a Settlement Agreement advanced by the College and Dr. Thomas Crawford, and recommended by Investigation Committee “C” of the College pursuant to Section 57 of the Medical Act.

The Settlement Agreement contained agreed facts, the allegations against Dr. Crawford, the admissions of Dr. Crawford, and the agreed disposition.

Agreed Facts

Dr. Crawford is a 1979 graduate of medical school and following graduation, he practiced in New Brunswick and in Ontario before applying for a licence in Nova Scotia in 1996. Prior to 1996, Dr. Crawford had resigned from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New Brunswick following receipt of a complaint related to substance abuse. His licence to practice medicine in New Brunswick was suspended as a result of that complaint, and Dr. Crawford then resigned from practice following treatment for his substance use disorder.

In 1996, Dr. Crawford was issued a licence to practice medicine in Nova Scotia on the premise that he did not require narcotic prescribing privileges for his licence in Nova Scotia.

In 1997, a matter was forwarded to the Investigation Committee of the College alleging Dr. Crawford was impaired while on duty. The College learned that contrary to information previously provided by Dr. Crawford, he had retained his prescribing privileges and had accessed narcotics for his self-use through such privileges.

The Investigation Committee entered an agreement with Dr. Crawford where he agreed to be bound by various terms and conditions of a recovery program designed toward treatment and remediation. Dr. Crawford agreed to be subject to a random ongoing monitoring program for drug use, a requirement for further treatment and counselling, a prohibition against use of alcohol and non-prescribed medications and a surrender of privileges to prescribe narcotics.

The random monitoring of Dr. Crawford ended in 2003.

In December 2006, contrary to the agreement with the College, Dr. Crawford began using controlled substances including narcotics, without obtaining a proper and necessary prescription. He used a variety of pretences to gain access to these medications for self-use.

Matters concerning Dr. Crawford’s relapse into the use of controlled substances were brought to the attention of the College in October 2007. Dr. Crawford entered into an agreement with the College at that time to voluntarily cease the practice of medicine and to obtain treatment.

Dr. Crawford entered a treatment program and appeared before the Investigation Committee in December 2007, taking full responsibility for a relapse into drug use. The College obtained an Addiction Risk Assessment Report for Dr. Crawford to obtain information to determine the appropriate disposition of this matter.

On April 11, 2008 the Investigation Committee issued an interim suspension of Dr. Crawford’s licence to practice medicine.

In August 2008 as a result of a medical condition suffered by Dr. Crawford, he attended at the Emergency Department of a hospital and was prescribed narcotics for his pain. Between August 2008 and December 2008 Dr. Crawford continued to use narcotics for his medical condition.

In November 2008 Dr. Crawford attended a treatment program for his substance use disorder. A short time following discharge from treatment, Dr. Crawford attended at the Emergency Department of a hospital for a medical condition and was again prescribed narcotics.

Dr. Crawford ceased all use of narcotics during the first week of December 2008.

The Investigation Committee of the College obtained Reports from various treating physicians of Dr. Crawford to determine his current medical condition and addiction assessment. The Reports were favourable in terms of Dr. Crawford’s prognosis.

Allegations against Dr. Crawford

The following allegations were referred by the Investigation Committee of the College to the Hearing Committee:

That being registered under the Medical Act, R.S.N.S., 1995-96, c.10, and being a medical practitioner in the Province of Nova Scotia during the following relevant periods, it is alleged that:

1. On a number of occasions between December 2006 and October 2007 Dr. Crawford gained unauthorized access to prescription medications without a medical prescription, on the pretence that such medications were for patients and that a prescription was forthcoming.

2. On a number of occasions between December 2006 and October 2007 Dr. Crawford inappropriately completed blank triplicate prescriptions, signed by another physician, to access narcotics for his own use;

3. On a number of occasions between December 2006 and October 2007 Dr. Crawford self administered controlled substances or narcotics, including, but not limited to Duralgesic patches and Dilaudid, without a proper prescription for such medications; and

4. Dr. Crawford breached conditions and restrictions established in a recovery program agreed upon between Dr. Crawford and Investigation Committee “B” on December 11, 1997, and as updated by an agreement reached on December 17, 1999.


Dr. Crawford admitted the allegations forwarded to the Hearing Committee and admitted such allegations constituted a disciplinary matter as set out in the Medical Act.

Agreed Disposition

The Settlement Agreement provides for the following disposition:

(a) Dr. Crawford is reprimanded;

(b) Dr Crawford’s licence to practice medicine continues to be suspended until he complies with all remaining requirements of the Settlement Agreement;

(c) Dr. Crawford shall abstain from the consumption of alcohol and from taking any prescription or non-prescription medications, including but not limited to opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, ethyl alcohol, THC and cocaine (the “Prohibited Substances”), except as set out in subparagraph (e) or otherwise approved by the College;

(d) Dr. Crawford shall engage in a program of counselling and treatment, the details of which are set out in the Settlement Agreement;

(e) Restrictions are imposed on Dr. Crawford with respect to his use of any prohibited substance while an inpatient or an outpatient in any health facility;

(f) Dr. Crawford is required to advise any treating physician of the terms of the Settlement Agreement;

(g) Dr. Crawford is required to engage in a program of random monitoring for the detection of the Prohibited Substances, upon terms spelled out in the Settlement Agreement. The Monitoring Program shall continue as long as Dr. Crawford holds a licence to practice medicine;

(h) When Dr. Crawford has maintained negative results from the Monitoring Program for a period of four consecutive months, he is eligible for the lifting of the suspension of his licence, subject to the College receiving a satisfactory independent Addiction Assessment Report and other Reports respecting Dr. Crawford’s health status;

(i) In the event Dr. Crawford meets the above terms for lifting his suspension, his licence shall be reinstated but subject to the following restrictions:

1. the continued requirement to abstain from the consumption of Prohibited Substances, subject to restrictions respecting use of narcotics for medical conditions approved by the College;

2. ongoing requirements for counselling and treatment as approved by the College;

3. continued monitoring for the detection of Prohibited Substances on terms agreed upon by the College;

4. a permanent restriction from prescribing any narcotics or controlled substances including methadone;

5. a permanent restriction requiring Dr. Crawford to not keep any narcotics or other controlled substance in any office used by him or otherwise accessible by him;

6. a requirement to inform all physicians and pharmacists with whom he shares a common commercial space of his restrictions respecting prescribing;

7. a requirement to ensure all narcotics and controlled substances within any commercial space in which he practices are secured under lock and key and not accessible to him;

8. a permanent restriction from providing palliative care to patients;

9. a permanent restriction from accepting the return of any medications from patients;

10. a permanent restriction from treating patients on an inpatient or outpatient basis who are taking narcotics or controlled substances. In the event an existing patient requires narcotics or controlled substances, Dr. Crawford agrees to refer the patient to another physician for this purpose;

11. a requirement to post a sign in his office visible to patients outlining the applicable restrictions of his practice;

12. a requirement for a gradual return to work, as agreed upon with the College;

13. a requirement to practice only at such location as may be approved by the College;

14. a condition that if the College approves Dr. Crawford to take certain medications, he shall immediately cease the practice of medicine for the duration of time he is taking such medications for medical purposes;

15. a requirement to abide by any conditions or restrictions recommended in any Reports required by the Hearing Committee;

16. a requirement for all relevant information to be provided to any hospital or District Health Authority granting privileges to Dr. Crawford, or to any other licensing body where Dr. Crawford may seek to be licenced.

Dr. Crawford agrees to pay costs in the amount of $15,000.00 toward the total costs incurred by the College in the conclusion of this matter, on terms acceptable to the College.


Sean Donovan said...

Dr Tom Crawford saved my life without his help/support I dont know where I'd be right now.July 1st I will b 5 years clean.Dr Crawford put me on a methadone matience program and about 250 others from nova scotia.We all have our problems I dont like how people have turned there back on HIM.

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