Grande Prairie doctor suspended, charged over inappropriate examinations
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012 5:19PM MST
The College of Physicians and Surgeons, and RCMP, have taken action against a Grande Prairie ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon – after two patients reported he inappropriately examined them.
According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), Dr. Romelito Delacruz has been suspended for six months, and ordered to pay 80 percent of the costs of the investigation and hearings that stemmed from allegations from two patients.
The CPSA said the first complaint was made in March 2009, from a female patient referred to as ‘BB’.
According to documents, ‘BB’ saw Dr. Delacruz in June 2008, for a second opinion. During her appointment, ‘BB’ said she talked about other cosmetic concerns, including issues related to breast implants she’d had.
It was alleged the doctor then examined her inappropriately, by fondling her breasts, genitals and bottom – she stated she had not complained about problems below her waist.
A second complaint was filed in April 2010, from afemale patient who was 16-years-old at the time – she was referred to as ‘AA’ in CPSA documents.
‘AA’ saw Dr. Delacruz in August 2007, after being referred by her family physician for a tonsillectomy.
During the appointment, ‘AA’ reportedly asked Dr. Delacruz about bumps that had developed on her shins, because she had heard they could be related to a throat infection. The patient later complained that the doctor then conducted an inappropriate examination, including fondling her genitals and bottom without gloves, and examining her breasts – both when there was no medical reason to do so.
The CPSA said during the investigation of both complaints, Dr. Delacruz claimed his examinations were necessary; however opinion from both a family physician and another ENT surgeon disagreed.
The physician said Dr. Delacruz’s examination of both patients was inappropriate, and it was dangerous to operate outside of his specialty as an ENT surgeon.
The ENT surgeon consulted in the matter said most examination below the collarbone is outside of the scope of an ENT surgeon, except in certain cases such as examining the heart and lungs of certain patients, and the liver and spleen in patients with cases of infectious mononucleosis.
Both complaints went on to disciplinary hearing, where Dr. Delacruz was found guilty of inappropriately examining both patients below the waist, and in his examination of ‘AA’s breasts.
The tribunal found the examination of ‘BB’s breasts was appropriate, because Dr. Delacruz had trained in cosmetic surgery.
As a result of the tribunal’s findings, Dr. Delacruz will be suspended for six months starting on November 15, he must pay for and complete a course on boundaries, and he will have to pay for, attend and cooperate with a multi-disciplinary assessment – and then complete any treatment program recommended.
He will have to also pay more than $60,000 to cover 80 percent of the costs of the investigation and hearings.
On Tuesday, RCMP said the case had also prompted criminal charges – as Dr. Delacruz is facing three counts of sexual assault.
His next court appearance has been scheduled for November 26 in Grande Prairie.