Former patients suing doctor after complications
A group of women in London, all former patients of a St. Thomas gynecologist, are suing their doctor after alleging they experienced complications following surgery.
One of those women is Lorraine Kinninmont, who said in 2011 "My life today bears little resemblance to what it did two years ago. It's not something I can bring back."
She launched a lawsuit against Dr. Cathy Frank in November, and since then her attorney's office says it has received numerous calls from other former patients.
Barbara Legate, an attorney with Legate & Associates, says "I think the count is in the vicinity of 110 at this point. So we've had a lot of women want to share their stories."
Legate's clients would not share those stories on camera, but so far she says they've launched four claims against Frank and are working on six others.
"Those are women who are complaining of gynecological problems that we have unfortunately…six cases that we're looking at now where babies were injured during the birth process."
The allegations have not yet been proven in court.
Records show Frank started practicing at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in 2002 and was head of her department for five years.
Then in 2009 her certificate was restricted. She also underwent a review and required supervision.
A year and a half later she resigned. In 2011 the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) restricted her from practicing in gynecological or obstetrical surgery.
According to Legate, her clients didn't know that their gynecologist's competence when it came to surgery was ever a concern.
"The overwhelming feeling that I get from my clients is one of betrayal," she says.
St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital is also named in the lawsuits, but a hospital spokesperson says it has no comment other than a statement released in November.
The statement says the hospital is "sincerely sorry" for what the women experienced and that it brought in an independent reviewer to look into the matter.
Legate says her clients are also concerned that any complaints made about Frank, or any other doctor, are not made public.
"I think we're all entitled to know that our doctor is under some kind of supervision or investigation related to his or her competency."
Even when information is made available, people aren't automatically notified. The CPSO only refers the public to its online doctor search, so they can find the information themselves.
Dr. Bob Byrick, president of the CPSO, says "This information is available for them and we would encourage the patients to use the College as the authoritative site and source of this information about their physicians."
According to that website, Frank is still employed, working as a consultant at Southern Ontario Fertility Technologies in London.
The medical director at the Southdale Road facility is Dr. James Martin, Frank's husband. Frank could not be reached for comment.
Disciplinary decisions have not been made in Frank's case and since the CPSO won't comment on specific cases, it's unclear why.
Meanwhile Kinninmont wants one thing, "I want to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else."
The CPSO has three committees that look at credential concerns: registration, complaints and discipline.
Legate says the best-case scenario for her clients would involve the CPSO taking Frank's case to the discipline level.
Coming up in part three: What some say could be done to improve a patient's relationship with both their doctor and the body that regulates them.