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Group of doctors accuse medical leader of conflict of interest in Alberta Health Services whistleblower case

Stock image of a medical procedure. (CTV News Edmonton) Stock image of a medical procedure. (CTV News Edmonton)
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A potential conflict of interest between an official for Alberta Health Services and an Edmonton surgical centre are at the core of a whistleblower complaint lodged by five doctors.

It's also spurred Alberta's official opposition to call for an independent review of the claims.

A 13-page document dated Nov. 21, 2022, outlines several allegations of perceived conflict of interest, harassment, concerns around recruitment and allocation of resources involving Dr. Daniel O'Connell, the head of AHS's ear, nose and throat section in Edmonton who has a practice at the Canadian Cancer Care Clinic in south Edmonton.

Despite O'Connell's leadership position with AHS, the document says he "appears to be acting as an intermediary on behalf of the CCC clinic and or acting to benefit it."

The CCC Clinic — located on Gateway Boulevard at 69 Avenue — is an operation with which O'Connell admitted involvement, according to the complaint.

It also alleges O'Connell used his position to deny at least one doctor, Dr. Daniel O'Brien, operating privileges with AHS. Within a week of learning his AHS privileges were denied, O'Brien says he was invited to work at the cancer clinic.

O'Brien said there were "multiple reasons" why he ultimately refused to work at the clinic.

"Some of it was I would be taking employment at the whim of someone who I didn't feel like I can trust," he said.

O'Connell declined CTV News Edmonton's request for comment, directing questions to AHS.

The four other doctors listed as co-authors of the complaint declined CTV News Edmonton's requests for interviews.

The allegations are unproven and still under AHS investigation.

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, a spokesman for AHS said the health authority is "unable to provide additional details regarding this matter" due to privacy and confidentiality.

A representative of the Canadian Cancer Care Clinic tells CTV News Edmonton the clinic is not private. The website describes it as a multidisciplinary clinic that offers services covered by Alberta Health Care. Only non-insured services require payment.

Correction

In our original reporting, CTV News Edmonton made reference to the Canadian Cancer Care Clinic as a private facility. It is a multidisciplinary clinic that offers services covered by Alberta Health Care. Only non-insured services would require payment. CTV News Edmonton regrets the error.

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