When a medical malpractice lawyer takes on an injured patient’s case, they will seek compensation for damages that have already occurred. It is the job of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the province’s medical watchdog, to monitor standards of practice, investigate complaints against doctors, and ensure that physicians who have committed misconduct are appropriately disciplined. When a doctor demonstrates sustained incompetence, the College must act to protect patients from harm.

On April 4, the Toronto Star reported that Cathy Frank, an obstetrician-gynecologist from St. Thomas, Ontario, had been suspended for two years by the College following an investigation into dozens of complaints from the past 15 years.

Among the complaints considered were 16 hysterectomies, some of which resulted in serious, life-changing injuries. In one case, a woman’s sole ovary was removed without her consent and without the consultation of her family. The patient was unaware that her ovary had been removed until several years later, and the operation left her prematurely menopausal.

In another case, Frank performed a hysterectomy on Lorraine Kinninmont, a patient from London, Ontario, to address heavy, irregular bleeding. The procedure left Kinninmont with a perforated bowel; she required emergency surgery to remove a piece of her colon, and two subsequent corrective operations. Today, she has no remaining stomach muscles.

According to the Star, the College listed the following reasons for Frank’s suspension:

  • Failure to determine root causes of patients’ symptoms prior to resorting to surgery
  • Failure to establish consent before operations
  • Inadequate record keeping
  • Operations that went against “standards of practice of the profession”
  • “Failing to adequately monitor and assess post-operative patients, including those exhibiting symptoms of complications.’

For a medical malpractice lawyer, many of the medical errors committed by Frank would be considered grounds to initiate a malpractice claim. Why, then, did the College take so long to act?

“While there is that amount of relief, there is anger,” Kinninmont told the Star. “Why did the (college) take so long and how can they be held accountable? How can they change their processes to avoid this in the future? This goes back to 2003. I look back and it makes me angry because maybe had the (college) acted properly the first time, I wouldn’t have been injured … My goal has always been to stop other women being hurt.”

Swifter action from the College may have prevented some patients from getting injured, but the College does not provide financial compensation to victims of medical malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help victims access compensation that will aid their recoveries. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a medical setting, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today to learn how we can help.

Greg Neinstein