Toronto Police have launched an investigation into a prominent pain specialist accused of sexually abusing multiple patients.
The Toronto Police Service received a complaint earlier this year, media-relations officer Caroline de Kloet told The Globe and Mail Monday. She declined further comment, saying, “The investigation is ongoing."
Allan Gordon, a neurologist, was director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital when the alleged abuse took place. The Globe has identified at least 10 former patients who complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario that he sexually abused them. Three of the patients have also filed civil lawsuits against him.
The case has raised questions about whether the medical regulator is equipped to investigate sexual-abuse complaints. However, Premier Doug Ford’s government has no plans to change the status quo.
The college will continue to be responsible for regulating physicians “in the public interest and ensuring that they provide health services in a safe, professional and ethical manner,” Hayley Chazan, a spokeswoman for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in an e-mail Monday.
But a senator and human-rights lawyer who has chaired three government-appointed inquiries in Ontario on the sexual abuse of patients says the college is not adequately protecting patients.
“The decision to do nothing … is a decision to abandon patients in Ontario,” Marilou McPhedran said.
The most recent inquiry recommended in 2016 that the government take away the health regulatory colleges’ ability to prosecute and adjudicate sexual-abuse complaints and place that power in the hands of a new centralized body and independent tribunal.
All too often, colleges that regulate health professionals use their discretion to find doctors, nurses and others accused of sexually abusing patients guilty of less serious offences, such as “professional misconduct,” the task force set up by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins concluded.
Instead of immediately adopting the task force’s recommendation, Dr. Hoskins put it out for further study. He resigned as health minister in February, 2018, and the Liberal government shelved the study before it was completed.
Ms. McPhedran said successive governments have ignored her calls for an independent body, initially made in her task force report in 2000, when the Progressive Conservatives were in power.
“Governments are making the choice not to fix a system that is loaded against patients in this province,” she said in an interview Monday.
The Globe has reported that the College of Physicians and Surgeons closed the files of women who complained about Dr. Gordon and did not publicly acknowledge their allegations.
Instead, Dr. Gordon pleaded “no contest” before a discipline panel last October to the less serious offence of professional misconduct for failing to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” for a pelvic exam.
As part of the settlement, he agreed to resign and never reapply to practise medicine in Ontario or any other jurisdiction. He was 73 at the time.
His lawyer, Jaan Lilles, has told The Globe that the care Dr. Gordon provided to the patients was “appropriate” and that the college took no further action on the complaints.
“Dr. Gordon has never been found to have committed an act of sexual impropriety,” Mr. Lilles said.
Dr. Gordon has not practised medicine since July, 2017, when Mount Sinai Hospital suspended, and then later revoked, his hospital privileges. Nancy Whitmore, registrar of the college, said the regulator has protected the public interest because Dr. Gordon agreed never to practise medicine again.
His case is not an isolated incident. A Globe investigation has found that the college dropped allegations against one in four doctors accused of sexually abusing patients over the past six years. The doctors either admitted to less serious misconduct or pleaded no contest – meaning they did not contest the facts, but also did not admit guilt.
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