A respected Winnipeg orthopedic surgeon has been suspended for six months after texting a picture of a penis to a woman who saw him for hip replacement surgery.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba ordered Dr. David Ames to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist before he was allowed to practice again. He was ordered to pay $65,000 to cover investigation costs.
Anna Ziomek, the college’s registrar and CEO, said she hopes the college’s decision will be “a powerful reminder to its members (and) enrollees of the importance of understanding and respecting boundaries with their patients.”
Ames, who has been practicing since 2016, is a surgeon at Grace Hospital and part of the Fort Whyte Orthopedics clinic. He was also one of the Manitoba Moose team doctors from 2017-2020.
The college found him guilty of professional misconduct for making inappropriate sexual comments to the woman, misleading the college investigator into not acknowledging that his communication with the patient was sexual in nature, and texting a photo of a penis to the woman. The doctor later acknowledged he had sent the photo, but said it was not a photo of his genitals.
“These types of allegations are deeply troubling and damaging to the medical profession.” –Anna Ziomek
Ames, who was born in 1971 and began medical school in 2004, had denied malpractice.
Ziomek said patient safety is one of the college’s top priorities.
“These kinds of allegations are deeply troubling and damaging to the medical profession,” she said.
“Trust is the cornerstone of the patient-doctor relationship and the public should have confidence that their doctors will treat them with dignity and respect.”
A Fort Whyte Orthopedics spokesperson said the clinic had no comment on Ames’ suspension.
Ames’ attorney said she was not allowed to make a statement, but would contact Ames to see if he would like to speak to a reporter. At press time, no one had called back.
On several occasions after the appointment, Ames texted the patient sexually.
The court that heard the case was made up of two doctors and a member of the public. Although Ames was found guilty on September 23, the suspension order was not issued until February 1.
The college said that shortly after the woman complained in July 2019, the doctor was placed under strict conditions, including having a chaperone whenever he was with a patient and limiting his communication with patients in outside the clinic.
The college listed the restrictions on its website under Ames’ public profile.
When Ames returns from his suspension, he will be subject to these restrictions for at least a year; it will be up to him to “prove that the variance is in the public interest”.
The court was told the woman, who was married and born in 1971, was referred to Ames to have both of her hips replaced. She went to see him in August 2018, and was accompanied by her friend who had a past sexual relationship with the doctor.
On several occasions after the appointment, Ames texted the patient sexually. On dates, he told her she was “beautiful” and “sexy”.
“The power imbalance in their relationship was pronounced and Dr. Ames was either oblivious to it or exploited for his own gratification.” – Courts
She was operated on in December 2018 and February 2019.
The woman had accused the doctor of sexually assaulting her with his fingers during her last appointment, but the doctor denied it. The court ruled that the college had not proven the allegation and that it “simply cannot make a decision as to which version of these events is most likely”.
The woman said after the last appointment she rushed out of the clinic and sat in her vehicle. It was then that the doctor sent her a picture of a penis.
In its decision, the court noted that 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 for his own gratification.”
Ames, who graduated from medical school at the University of Manitoba, completed three training courses between 2014 and 2016: Adult Orthopedic Trauma, Traumatology, Arthroplasty and Adult Reconstruction.
On the Rate MDs website, Ames earned a five-star rating after 115 reviews.
He’s been called ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’ and another patient said he was ‘the only doctor I would recommend’.
Another, who said he was a frontline healthcare worker and admitted he felt ‘more vulnerable’ knowing he needed surgery, said: ‘The reputation of Dr Ames within the hospital community as a surgeon is impeccable. I couldn’t be happier with her care or my outcome. As good as they come.
Kevin Rollason is one of the Winnipeg Free Press’ most versatile reporters. Whether covering City Hall, the Courthouse 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. .
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