An Ottawa doctor has quit practising medicine, but that didn’t stop the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario from reading her the riot act at Thursday’s disciplinary hearing.
Christiane Farazli, an internist at the centre of an HIV and hepatitis scare in late 2011, used to run an endoscopy clinic on Carling Avenue near The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus.
While practising, the College’s disciplinary panel says Farazli subjected her patients to a "very real risk of significant harm."
- Ottawa endoscopy clinic had "gross cross-contamination"
- No cases found linking endoscopy clinic to infections
"For more than 10 years, you practised with blatant disregard for the safety of your patients and ignorance of the fundamental principles of infection control," according to the College.
"Your actions resulted in emotional distress and anxiety for thousands of patients as well as major costs to society for the investigations of blood-borne disease that were subsequently necessary."
Farazli escapes 'most severe' penalty, College says
Farazli gave up performing endoscopies at her clinic in September 2011, but months earlier her clinic failed an inspection by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
In the college's inspection report, Farazli was accused of using unsterilized instruments and having "gross cross-contamination" from a dirty scope, among other allegations.
She was then barred from performing endoscopies on the premises or anywhere else in Ontario.
On Thursday, the disciplinary panel said had Farazli not given up her practice, she "would have been subjected to the most severe penalties available to the College."
They also said her treatment of patients was "abusive".
"It is hard to think of a more vulnerable position for these patients. To treat patients in this position with gross insensitivity and disregard of their discomfort is unconscionable," the College said.
Public health scare in 2011
An Ottawa Public Health investigation accused Farazli of using improper cleaning procedures for patients treated between April 2002 and June 2011.
Public health officials sent 6,800 letters to former patients warning them to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. But after a year-long investigation, officials said they found no cases linked to the clinic.
A $10-million class-action lawsuit was filed against Farazli in late 2011, but there has been no legal movement since the doctor filed her defence a few months later.
None of the allegations against Farazli have been proven in court. She could not be reached for comment.
Farazli has also tried to sue The Ottawa Hospital on three separate occasions for malpractice related to her back injury. The latest suit was launched in 2009, but all three cases have been dismissed.