WARNING: Some readers may find the details in this story disturbing.
An Ontario discipline body has suspended a family doctor for 14 months for showing several female patients naked photos of himself.
Dr. Nigel Mark Phipps, who is a family physician in Georgetown, Ont., was found guilty of sexual abuse last year by a five-member discipline panel at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).
On Wednesday, the panel suspended Phipps from his practice for 14 months. However, Phipps will retain his license to practise.
According to the CPSO ruling, Phipps showed 11 female patients and three staff members photos of himself naked or semi-naked from his cellphone during clinical visits. In one photo, Phipps’ penis is visible, in another picture his buttocks is visible, in a third one he’s naked from the groin up and a fourth photo shows him naked with a towel over his arm.
The panel also heard that Phipps, who has been practicing since 1985, was sexually aroused during visits with three patients. The doctor denied his actions constituted sexual abuse.
The women were all long-term patients of Phipps. One patient told the panel she was experiencing nightmares and was more depressed than ever because she learned the doctor was behaving this way with other women.
Another patient said she is disappointed and angry with Phipps and feels a lack of trust in male doctors.
A publication ban is in place to protect the identities of the patients.
The 14-month suspension takes effect on Oct. 1. Once the suspension is served, Phipps cannot see any patient unless in the presence of a health care professional and must see a college-approved psychiatrist who must provide written reports about his conduct.
Phipps has to post credit in the amount of $176,660.00 to cover therapy costs for his patients.
“It is the college’s position that Dr. Phipps’ conduct towards his patients during medical appointments is a breach of the high public trust granted to physicians and has caused harm to patients to the public and to the profession,” Shae Greenfield, senior communications advisor with the college, told CTVNews.ca in an emailed statement. “Although revocation was not mandatory in this case, we believe it was the appropriate penalty for a case involving both a breach of trust and sexual abuse of many patients of the type that is at issue in this case.”
The lawyers representing Phipps did not immediately respond for comment from CTVNews.ca.