Surgeon suspended for sexual communication with female patient
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2022 (187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A respected orthopedic surgeon in Winnipeg has been suspended for six months after texting a photo of a penis to a woman who saw him for double hip replacement surgery.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba has ordered Dr. David Ames to see a psychiatrist or psychologist before he is allowed to practise again. He has been ordered to pay $65,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.
Dr. Anna Ziomek, the college’s registrar and CEO, said she hopes the college’s decision will be “a powerful reminder to its members (and) registrants of the importance of understanding and respecting boundaries with their patients.”
Ames, who has practised since 2016, is a surgeon at the Grace Hospital, and is part of the Fort Whyte Orthopedics clinic. He was also one of the team doctors for the Manitoba Moose from 2017 to 2020.
The college found him guilty of professional misconduct for making inappropriate sexual comments to the woman, misleading the college investigator by failing to acknowledge his communication with the patient was sexual in nature and texting a photo of a penis to the woman. The doctor later admitted he had sent the photo, but said it wasn’t a picture of his genitalia.
Ames, who was born in 1971 and began medical school in 2004, had denied he was guilty of professional misconduct.
Ziomek said patient safety is one of the college’s main priorities.
“These types of allegations are deeply disturbing and damaging to the medical profession,” she said.
“Trust is the cornerstone of the patient-physician relationship and the public should have confidence that their physicians will treat them with dignity and respect.”
A spokesperson for Fort Whyte Orthopedics said the clinic has no comment on Ames’ suspension.
“These types of allegations are deeply disturbing and damaging to the medical profession.” – Anna Ziomek
Ames’ lawyer said she had not been authorized to give a statement, but she would contact Ames to see if he wanted to speak to a reporter. At press time, no one had called back.
The tribunal that heard the case was made up of two doctors and one member of the public. Although Ames was found guilty on Sept. 23, the suspension order wasn’t issued until Feb. 1.
The college said shortly after the woman complained to them in July 2019, the doctor was placed under strict conditions, including having a chaperone whenever he was with a female patient and limiting his communication with patients outside of the clinic.
The college listed the restrictions on its website under Ames’ public profile.
When Ames does return from his suspension, he will be subject to those restrictions for at least a year; it will be up to him to “prove that variance is in the public interest.”
The tribunal was told the woman, who is married and was born in 1971, was referred to Ames to get both of her hips replaced. She went to see him in August 2018, and was accompanied by her friend who had had a past sexual relationship with the doctor.
On several occasions after the appointment, Ames sent sexually charged text messages to the patient. During appointments, he told her she was “beautiful” and “hot.”
On several occasions after the appointment, Ames sent sexually charged text messages to the patient.
She got her surgeries in December 2018 and February 2019.
The woman had accused the doctor of sexually assaulting her with his fingers during her final appointment, but the doctor denied it. The tribunal ruled the college hadn’t proven the allegation and it “simply cannot make a decision with respect to which version of these events is more probable.”
The woman said after the last appointment she rushed out of the clinic and sat in her vehicle. That’s when the doctor texted her a photograph of a penis.
In its decision, the tribunal noted the woman was in pain and desperate for help when she went to see Ames.
“The power imbalance in their relationship was pronounced and Dr. Ames was either oblivious to it or exploited it for his own gratification.”
Ames, who is a graduate of the University of Manitoba medical school, trained in three fellowships between 2014 to 2016: adult orthopedic trauma, trauma, and arthroplasty and adult reconstruction.
On the Rate MDs website, Ames has a five-star rating after 115 reviews.
“The power imbalance in their relationship was pronounced and Dr. Ames was either oblivious to it or exploited it for his own gratification.” – Tribunal
He is called “great,” “amazing,” and another patient said he’s “the only doctor I’d recommend.”
Another, who said they were a front-line health worker, and admitted they felt “extra vulnerable” knowing they needed surgery, said “Dr. Ames’ reputation within the hospital community as a surgeon is impeccable. I could not be happier with his care or my outcome. As good as they come.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Thursday, March 31, 2022 9:03 PM CDT: Removes reference to Seven Oaks hospital
Updated on Friday, April 1, 2022 10:37 AM CDT: Adds title to Dr. Anna Ziomek's name