May 27th, 2024

Doctor accused of sex assault says physician shortage means he should practise

By Medicine Hat News on April 19, 2024.


A Medicine Hat doctor accused of engaging in oral sex with a mentally disabled man in his care will appeal a professional conduct board ruling against him, while the professional association will appeal for harsher penalties than those that will allow him to continue seeing patients.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons announced Thursday the restrictions stemming from a finding that Dr. Ian Gebhardt “did act inappropriately with your patient” in June 2017.

However, a release states, since the offence dates prior to before patient protection legislation, harsher mandatory penalties cannot be applied.

Instead, Gebhardt’s licence will be suspended for a further two months (20 in total) and chaperones will be required during examinations.

The hearing board’s conclusion lists the “extremely serious nature” of the offence, and the patient’s mental capacity as an aggravating factor.

But it also notes potential impact on current patients if the practice was closed, and Gebhardt’s argument that there is a doctor shortage in Medicine Hat.

The CPSA’s complaints director has said an appeal of the order is in process, asking that Gebhardt’s permit to practice be cancelled rather than suspended.

The release also states that Gebhardt is actively appealing the finding.

Sanctions announced this week include a suspension of licence to practise medicine for 20 months, though 18 months have already passed.

The practice will also continue indefinitely with the requirement to have a chaperone present for all in-person and virtual examinations.

Gebhardt must also pay two-thirds of the cost of the recent hearings and the full cost of a new professional standards review that could impose further restrictions.

Gebhardt was accused of criminal sexual interference at the time of the incident, but charges were stayed at trail when the patient – an adult man with a mental age between nine and 14 years old – provided some contradictory testimony.

The CPSA pursued professional conduct charges against Gebhardt after the doctor was also charged with historic sexual abuse allegations in his home province of Ontario.

The hearing was held last June, findings determined last September and sanctions determined and announced this week.

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