British Columbia

B.C. dentist who billed for work he didn't do 'crossed a serious ethical threshold'

Dr. Bin Xu seems to have disappeared since the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. began investigating a dozen complaints against him.

12 patients filed complaints against Dr. Bin Xu, whose current whereabouts are unknown

Many of the complaints against Dr. Bin Xu involved children or elderly patients. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

A Richmond dental surgeon who charged his elderly patients thousands of dollars for procedures he didn't perform and then refused to give them refunds has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

Dr. Bin Xu seems to have disappeared since the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. began investigating a dozen complaints against him. Nonetheless, the college's inquiry committee pushed ahead with its disciplinary process, finding him professionally incompetent in a decision posted online Friday.

"Taken together, the issues with Dr. Xu's practice, including his practice of billing up front and not completing treatment, the fact that he took advantage of elderly and vulnerable patients and the nature of his dealing with both his patients and the college are very serious and crossed a serious ethical threshold," the decision says.

A date for a hearing to decide Xu's penalty has yet to be decided. He agreed to withdraw from practice in 2017.

According to the decision, the college received complaints from 12 of Xu's patients between 2015 and 2018. Many of those concerned treatment of seniors or children.

Several patients and their family members gave evidence at a disciplinary hearing in November, often speaking in Cantonese or Mandarin. Some of those witnesses spoke despite being in poor health and others missed work without pay to appear, according to the decision.

"It was clear that for all the witnesses, their dealings with Dr. Xu had a significant emotional and financial impact on them and their families," the discipline panel writes.

The 68-page decision lays out how Xu billed his patients in advance — often in cash — then didn't provide all the treatments they'd paid for. He would refuse to give refunds, in some cases falsely insisting that he'd done the work.

Dr. Bin Xu had a dental clinic on Park Road in Richmond, shown here in 2011. (Google Street View)

The panel also found cases where Xu did not obtain informed consent from his patients for treatments, performed unnecessary work, failed to diagnose real issues, provided substandard care and kept shoddy records.

Those issues weren't just present in the cases of the patients who'd complained. A college investigator also reviewed charts from a random selection of patients and found similar problems.

"The panel has found a concerning pattern of deficiencies in the treatment Dr. Xu provided to his patients. The panel finds that the allegations of substandard care that the college has proven show that Dr. Xu was practicing dentistry incompetently," the decision says.

Xu practised in Shenyang City, China, before leaving for California, where he received a Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2004. He has been registered as a dentist in B.C. since 2005.

Where is Dr. Xu?

His current whereabouts are a mystery.  Two private investigators have been unable to locate him, according to the college's decision.

The college says it lost contact with Xu after January 2017, when he signed a voluntary withdrawal from practice. Around the same time, patients say they were essentially "abandoned," and could not reach Xu to help them transition to new dentists.

When a disciplinary citation was couriered to his last known address, it was returned to the college as "unclaimed," and he has not responded to the college's emails, according to the decision. Xu did not appear at his own disciplinary hearings in November.

When CBC tried to reach him on Tuesday, phone numbers for his clinics in Richmond and Burnaby had been disconnected, and he did not respond to a voicemail left on a cell phone number listed online.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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