An investigation has been launched into a Toronto doctor and two more have had further restrictions imposed on their licences due to alleged COVID-19-related misconduct in the past 24 hours, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has confirmed.
Global News has learned that Dr. Ira Bernstein, a family doctor who co-founded the Canadian Covid Care Alliance (CCCA), which has spawned a telehealth service offering ivermectin to Ontarians, is being investigated by the CPSO.
Bernstein was one of several physicians highlighted in a recent Global News investigation about a web of Canadian doctors promoting unverified medical information on COVID-19 treatments and some doctors who are alleged to have issued false medical exemptions.
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A CPSO spokesperson confirmed to Global News that an investigation into Bernstein was launched on Friday.
“Although we are limited under the Regulated Health Professions Act from disclosing further details, we can confirm Dr Ira Bernstein is under investigation by the College,” a CPSO spokesperson said.
Bernstein joins the ranks of more than 40 Ontario doctors now being investigated for alleged COVID-related misconduct.
He did not respond to attempts to contact him from Global News.
2 further doctors disciplined in 24 hours
On Thursday, restrictions were placed on the licences of two more doctors by the CPSO for issues related to COVID.
Dr Christopher Hassell, who Global News also highlighted in its investigation, had his licence restrictions upgraded to a suspension.
Under a suspension, a physician must immediately cease practising medicine and may not resume until the suspension is removed. There are currently only two other suspensions in Ontario for COVID-related conduct.
Hassell already had restrictions on his licence, imposed in November 2021, prohibiting him from prescribing ivermectin, as well as providing medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, mask requirements and testing.
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He stepped away from his practice at York Medical Clinic for allegedly issuing vaccine medical exemptions for a fee in September last year, according to a Toronto Star article.
Hassell then co-founded medical organization Angel’s Heart Medical with Dr Patrick Phillips, who was, at the time, the only other doctor in Ontario with a restriction on his licence prohibiting him prescribing ivermectin in relation to COVID-19.
Phillips is a director of the CCCA’s Canadian Covid TeleHealth Inc, which is registered at Bernstein’s practice’s address and offers Ontarians ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Phillips denies prescribing ivermectin since the restrictions on his licence were imposed and, via his lawyer Michael Alexander, said it “does not prevent him from acting as a director of a Canadian company.”
The CPSO would not comment on the details around Hassell’s case.
Hassell did not respond to attempts to contact him by Global News.
Dr Akbar Khan has restrictions imposed
The second doctor whose licence received restrictions on Thursday due to COVID-related issues was cancer physician Dr Akbar Khan.
Khan’s licence was restricted for what the CPSO alleges is “disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional conduct” in regards to his “communications with a patient regarding a College complaint and with respect to his billing practises regarding a patient.”
As of Thursday, Khan is no longer allowed to provide medical exemptions for COVID-19 and is not allowed to prescribe ivermectin.
Khan is the co-founder of Medicor Cancer Centres, which he describes on his LinkedIn page as “the first integrated private cancer clinic of its kind in Canada.”
The description goes on to say that Khan has gained “international recognition” for his work with off-label drugs in cancer treatment.
Medicor had also recently added cancer prevention strategies to its treatment repertoire, with “a focus on vitamin D, natural medicines, safety-tested e-cigarettes, and medical ozone therapy.”
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The CPSO would not comment on the details of Khan’s alleged conduct, as it had been referred to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeon’s Tribunal for a hearing.
“Dr Khan is incompetent and failed to maintain the standard of practise of the profession in relation to his care and treatment of patients,” a notice on Khan’s CPSO listing says.
Khan already had restrictions on his licence after a CPSO complaint in 2017. The CPSO website does not offer details around the 2017 restrictions.
In 2009, Khan appeared before the Ontario Divisional Court during a fight with Scarborough General Hospital.
According to court documents, the hospital’s Medical Advisory Committee sought to revoke Khan’s hospital privileges due to a “history of disruptive conduct” which culminated in an email sent to hospital staff. That email outlined staff salaries, including the salary of Dr. Steven Jackson, who was the Chief of Medical Staff at the time.
Court documents say Khan had agreed, in a memo two years earlier, to “continue to advocate for change but that ‘he would ensure that his communication and dissent are respectful and not hurtful’.”
Khan brought the issue in front of the hospital’s Executive Committee of the Board of Directors in order to quash it but failed. He then applied for judicial review at the Divisional Court, but this was also dismissed.
Khan did not respond to attempts to contact him by Global News.