By Robert Jones, CBC News
Toronto insurance broker told a Saint John courtroom Thursday that no medical professions in Canada protect patients against sexual assault because insurance companies will not take the risk.
“Most policies I am aware of exclude deliberate acts,” said John Gelston, an insurance expert called to testify in the case of Shirley Shannon.
Shannon is suing the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) for not paying a damage award she won against her psychiatrist.
Dr. Kwabena Agyei Akuffo-Akoto sexually abused and threatened Shannon in the 1990s and then fled to Great Britain after being found out.
Akuffo-Akoto was a member of the CMPA at the time to fulfil New Brunswick legal requirements that he carry professional liability coverage, or something “to similar effect.”
Only pay for medical mistakes
Shannon’s lawyer says that means CMPA has to pay the damages for what Akuffo-Akoto did in his medical practice, but the CMPA says it has a policy to pay only for medical mistakes — not criminal acts.
To bolster its case, the CMPA commissioned Gelston to survey what kind of insurance is available to medical professionals in Canada.
Gelston said he could find no coverage available anywhere that would pay compensation for a medical professional assaulting a patient, including among dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.
However, Gelston said he believes a third party, such as a hospital, could obtain insurance that would cover patients who were assaulted by a doctor, as long as reasonable steps were taken by the hospital to prevent such assaults from happening.
Shannon’s case, which has taken longer than expected, has been adjourned until Sept. 2 to hear from three more witnesses.