A Yorkville doctor who performed cosmetic operations without any surgical qualifications admitted Tuesday to professional incompetence and failing to maintain standards of care.
Dr. Eli Judah appeared before a disciplinary panel of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to face allegations regarding the treatment of 29 patients at his Yorkville Cosmetic Surgery Centre. The patients visited his private facility on Bloor St. W. for procedures ranging from breast lifts and buttock augmentation to large-volume liposuction.
Judah is a general practitioner, and is not certified as a surgical specialist in Canada nor qualified as an anesthesiologist, the panel was told.
Despite his lack of appropriate training, Judah administered IV sedation during operations and “excessively sedated” patients, according to an agreed statement of facts. The findings drew on reports from expert plastic surgeons who observed Judah performing surgeries, interviewed him and examined patients’ medical charts.
The five-member disciplinary panel reprimanded Judah, calling his cosmetic practice “cavalier” and “appalling.” He is now prohibited from administering sedation or practising any cosmetic surgery, except hair transplants.
“You put your patients at risk,” said panel chair Dr. Melinda Davie. Judah’s punishment was mitigated by the fact that he admitted to the allegations rather than force a costly, multi-day hearing.
Afterwards, Judah told reporters, “the college is doing what it feels is right from a regulatory point of view and in order to protect public safety, and of course we are here to abide by those rules.”
But he also said that general practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery have “borne the brunt” of regulatory and political pressures.
The college began investigating Judah after a coroner reported the 2006 death of a patient following surgery to remove abdominal fat and skin. Judah was one doctor involved in a legal battle with the college regarding whether it could send inspectors into private clinics, which the college eventually won.
Tuesday’s hearing did not include any evidence that the 29 patients were harmed as a result of Judah’s standard of care, only that he put patients at risk.
But the experts’ reports detail “major concerns” with Judah’s standard of care. His lawyer emphasized that her client does not agree with every reference in the reports, only the admissions in the statement of facts.
One expert called Judah’s self-styled professional description “deliberately deceptive,” noting he termed himself a “general practitioner in cosmetic surgery” and told inquiring patients only that he is “not a board-certified plastic surgeon.”
“There is no such thing as a board-certified plastic surgeon in Canada; that is an American term,” the report stated. “In Canada, one is certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons . . . as a surgical specialist, or one is not.”
Another expert alleged Judah was “purposefully vague” when describing his training. That report said Judah completed three of four years of an orthopedic surgical training program in Calgary, but that another eight years of “training” consisted of part-time courses and surgical observation in the U.S., and assisting in surgeries in Toronto.