In the aftermath of the Globe and Mail's inquest that exposed severe allegations of gender discrimination against Southlake Regional Health Centre's former emergency department chief, a new investigation has been initiated by the University of Toronto to assess how the hospital oversaw the management of the university's medical students. Dr. Marko Duic resigned from his position in January in response to the allegations from over 20 doctors revealed by the Globe. A formerly-esteemed veteran and leader in transformative emergency medicine, the allegations criticized Duic's questionable billing practices and incidents of gender discrimination.
Over 16 years as an emergency department chief physician - first in Toronto at St. Joseph's Health Centre, then in Newmarket at Southlake Hospital - Dr. Duic neglected to employ a single female physician.
Doctors who worked with him have alleged that his discriminatory methods trickled down to his medical trainees. He was rarely scheduled alongside female residents, and on the rare occasion that he was supervising female physicians on training rotations, the Globe describes his attitude as dismissive to female trainees.
One trainee even complained that he commented that her training would be a "waste" due to the fact that she would inevitably become pregnant. Dr. Duic said to her, "It’s too bad you’re a good resident because you will have children and your training will be a waste.”
The doctor, who now works in an emergency department in Toronto, told the Globe that she informed the doctor in charge of residents at the time. and had hoped there would be some sort of remedial action, in the form of a formal report or a reprimand. Rather, the doctor she reported to merely sent her an apology, and commented it was "unfortunate the physician who should have been supervising her had been ill".
In 2013, Dr. Eileen Cheung (who now works as an emergency doctor in Toronto) was scheduled with Dr. Duic during a shirt when she worked as a resident at St. Joseph's. According to Cheung, he pestered her, causing her to feel like she was too slow, and that she was interrupting him by asking questions, “He seemed very annoyed that I would approach him for any clinical question even though, medically and legally, he was responsible for the patients I saw."
One doctor who worked with Dr. Duic said he heard him say that a female emergency doctor “didn’t have the right chromosome.” Another said Duic told her: “It’s too bad you’re a good resident because you will have children and your training will be a waste.” https://t.co/O0UQ1grhch— Robyn Doolittle (@robyndoolittle) December 17, 2018
A male doctor who worked closely alongside Dr. Duic claims he outrageously claimed that a female emergency doctor “didn’t have the right chromosome.”
Last spring, the University of Toronto became aware of the growing concerns regarding Dr. Duic's treatment of his medical residents when a lawyer, Danny Kastner, sent a letter on behalf of a group of anonymous female doctors. The letter described various gender discrimination allegations, urging Southlake and the university to institute an independent investigation.
After conducting its own internal investigation, U of T notified Mr. Kastner that no evidence of discrimination was found. Now, the university's most recent investigation is intended to be "carried out by an independent investigator", and coordinated by Glen Bandiera, associate dean of postgraduate medical education.
According to a spokesperson for U of T, the university is calling upon current and previous trainees, in addition to "members of the clinical care team within the Southlake Emergency Department", to come forward with any allegations of gender discrimination at Southlake.
Since October, the hospital has hired two female emergency doctors. Earlier in February, Canadian Women in Medicine, an advocacy group, circulated an open letter to U of T's faculty of medicine, insisting a more comprehensive investigation into the alleged discrimination be conducted.
The problem is not a pipeline issue.— Kerry K. Taylor (@squawkfox) December 17, 2018
Dr. Marko Duic did not hire a single female doctor over the span of 16 years. The system enabled this behaviour.
"It’s possible to conclude that most – if not all – the teaching evaluations assessed by U of T were written by male trainees selected by Dr. Duic. How can this reasonably be considered a sensitive test for gender discrimination in the department?" reads the letter, which has so far been signed by around 450 physicians in Canada and the United States.