Toronto gynecologist to face disciplinary hearing with regulatory body over 6 complaints
Complaints of 6 patients were referred to discipline committee after investigation
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) plans to hold a disciplinary hearing to address allegations that a Toronto gynecologist engaged in disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct with a number of his patients.
The notice of hearing for Dr. David Gerber, posted to his online profile at the CPSO, shows that the disciplinary proceedings will include complaints against him made by six patients regarding incidents that occurred between 2007 and 2020.
Further details about those allegations are available in the notice, according to Carolyn Silver, general counsel for the CPSO.
"With respect to patient A, in 2007," Silver said, "communication was an issue, failing to explain the examination was an issue, [as well as] failing to obtain informed consent and failing to demonstrate sensitivity."
Aside from the year of the incident, the details provided for each complainant are identical.
In an email response to questions about these allegations, Gerber's lawyer, Howard Winkler, said that his client "will be relying on the first hand independent accounts of the Registered Nurses who were in attendance during his treatment of the Complainants." As the matter is now before the CPSO's discipline committee, he said he is unable to comment further.
Civil suit filed in November
Gerber's lawyer previously provided CBC News with written statements from five nurses, all of whom are current or former employees at Gerber's clinic. Each letter states, "I have never seen Dr. Gerber continue with a procedure if the patient asked him to stop." One letter says, "I would not have worked for Dr. Gerber for 12 years if I had ever observed conduct that I viewed as inappropriate."
In November, CBC News reported that one of Gerber's former patients, Elizabeth Adamou, had filed a lawsuit against the doctor, alleging he caused her "severe pain" during a "forceful" transvaginal ultrasound and had failed to obtain her consent for a procedure.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Adamou and three other women told CBC News they had made formal complaints to the CPSO regarding Gerber within the last year.
"It's something that I believe I have to follow through," Adamou said of her lawsuit. "For the sake of not just myself but for the sake of preventing this from happening to other people."
Gerber has filed a motion of intent to defend against the civil suit. In regards to the allegations put to him by CBC News in November, he "denies that any aspect of the care he provided or the communication he engaged in with these individuals was in any way inappropriate or unprofessional," according to a statement from his lawyer.
Winkler added that patient confidentiality rules prevent Gerber from providing a detailed response.
Investigation complete, details referred to discipline
While a date has not yet been set for Gerber's disciplinary hearing, the College is expected to hold it before the end of 2021, Silver said. She also noted the timeline could be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the information available on the CPSO's website, this will be the first time Gerber has faced a disciplinary hearing, though it is not the first time patients have complained to the College about his behaviour.
In 2018, Gerber was cautioned by the regulatory body after a patient complained about his care during an endocervical procedure.
"Specifically, she was concerned that Dr. Gerber failed to obtain informed consent to perform the procedure," failed to address her complaints of pain and "performed a forceful transvaginal ultrasound resulting in cervical inflammation," according to a summary of the decision.
The same document provides details of Gerber's history with the CPSO's complaint process.
It says he had "been the subject of several previous complaints to the College raising issues about his communications and painful examinations," and that "the committee was concerned that despite his previous involvement with the College on these issues, and attempts at remediation, Dr. Gerber was once more the subject of a complaint raising similar concerns."
Following the 2018 caution, the consent process at Gerber's clinic was significantly enhanced, according to his lawyer.
If the College's disciplinary committee finds that Gerber committed an act of professional misconduct, his licence to practise medicine in Ontario could be revoked.