Monday, February 4, 2013

Dr. Bernard Barwin: Fall of another medical God? Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno describes how "Wrong-sperm doctor ( Bernard) Barwin took shortcuts in career and races, too," with horrific results. (Any wonder why Rosie's column makes me think in some ways about another fallen medical "god"? Clue: His initials are "CS." HL.)

COLUMN: "Wrong-sperm doctor  Barwin took shortcuts in career and races, too: DiManno; Physician and “baby God” punished for inseminating women with wrong samples was already known for other mistakes," by columnist Rosie DiManno, published in the Toronto Star on February 4, 2013.

GIST: "He’s also a liar, cheat and fraud — but none of that ever came up. Should it matter?
Human error, a disciplinary panel of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons was told last week before finding Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin guilty on one of the three charges brought against him. Barwin — described as compassionate, a leading advocate of women’s reproductive rights, even revered as a “baby God” by patients who owe their miracle children to the Ottawa gynecologist — was formally reprimanded and had his licence suspended for two months. At least four of those babies aren’t the biological result of their fathers or the sperm donor designated by their mothers. Because of mistakes at Barwin’s clinic — experts dispatched to review procedures at the facility could isolate no “evident” reasons for the mix-up — those children will never know the male side of their parentage, thus left forever ignorant of crucial medical history details. A decade ago, Barwin told a reporter that inseminating a patient with the wrong sperm was his “worst nightmare.” It came true, although that nightmare is far more haunting for the families living with the consequences of his mistakes. Barwin was on the College’s radar since the mid-’90s when a lesbian couple brought suit against the doctor for the same reason. That incident was designated a “prior error” in the agreed statement of facts presented to the panel Thursday. On that occasion, Barwin was “notified of this error by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and states that he took some steps to endeavour to ensure that no such errors would occur in his practice in the future.” In fact, two similar blunders occurred subsequently and another, from 1985, was documented at the hearing. Yet, collectively, these chronic lapses were deemed insufficient to find 73-year-old Barwin guilty on the other two charges: disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional conduct; and incompetence. He was reprimanded only for failing to maintain the standard of practice of the profession. In 60 days, Barwin can resume his practice, though he shuttered the insemination service a year ago when notice of the hearing was given......... Barwin had been hired in 1973 with the understanding he would, within three years, take and pass the gynecology certification exam administered by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He did take it and failed — more than once. When he departed Ottawa General to establish his clinic, Barwin was still licensed merely as a general physician, with no gynecological privileges at area hospitals. Questioned long afterwards by the Ottawa Citizen, Barwin at first claimed he left Ottawa General because he wanted “more freedom,” then implied resentment among professional colleagues, and finally asserted he had “nothing to prove” because he’d been certified by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists in England. He did indicate embarrassment over the controversy. “I’m not proud of it.” It’s unclear if Barwin has passed the certification exam since, though he hadn’t as of 2002."
The entire column can be found at:

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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.