Disciplinary Action against Ogi Ressel, D.C.

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


In August 2002, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO)'s discipline panel found Ogi Ressel, D.C., guilty of professional misconduct after concluding that he had verbally and psychologically abused a minor patient, made unprofessional comments to the patient and her mother, kept inadequate records, and provided unneecessary therapeutic services. The panel ordered a nine-month suspension and payment to CCO of $87,948.58 for costs. Ressel appealed, but in July 2003, the Divisional Court of Ontario dismissed the appeal.

Ressell has taught pediatrics at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and has been chairman of the Ontario Chiropractic Association's Ethics and Discipline Committee. In 2002, his Web site stated that he operated what was probably "the largest pediatric and family practice in Canada." In 2003, he founded the Practice Evolution Program, which he described as "a coaching and mentoring program, the likes of which you have never experienced before." His book, Kids-First: Health With No Interference, discusses correction of "subluxations" in cases of infertility, ear infections, asthma, scoliosis, arthritis, A.D.H.D., Crohn's disease, colic, bed-wetting, allergies, growing pains, spinal degeneration, ulcerative colitis, and many other conditions. A biographical sketch on his former Web site stated that he "retired" in 2003 and that his top accomplishment was being "a father to three wonderful, unsubluxated, unvaccinated kids."

The CCO is the governing body that regulates chiropractors in Ontario. Its findings with respect to Ressel are summarized below.


College of Chiropractors of Ontario

Dr. Ogi Ressel, Burlington
Source: 2002 Annual Report

Allegations

CCO alleged that Dr. Ogi Ressel (the "Member") had committed acts of professional misconduct with respect to a patient, including that he committed an act of professional misconduct as provided by subsection 51 (1) (c) of the Code and paragraphs 1.5, 1.33, 1.2, 1.14 and 1.17 of the Professional Misconduct Regulation in that:

    during the period January 12, 1999 to April 7, 1999, he abused minor patient Ms A verbally, psychologically and emotionally; during the period January 12, 1999 to April 7, 1999, he engaged in conduct or performed an act or acts that, having all regard for the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as unprofessional, and in particular, that he made unprofessional comments to Ms A and her mother; during the period January 12, 1999 to April 7, 1999, he contravened a standard of practice of the profession or failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession expected of members of the profession, with respect to his record keeping relating to Ms A; during the period January 12, 1999 to April 7, 1999, he provided therapeutic services that were not necessary to Ms A; and he used a term, title or designation indicating a specialisation in the profession contrary to the policies of CCO, and in particular Policy P-029, with respect to Ms A and her mother.

Overview

The discipline hearing concerned the Member's treatment of Ms A. Ms A was a 13-year-old girl with Crohn's disease who received treatment from the Member. Ms A's mother had complained to CCO about the Member's treatment of and conduct towards Ms A, and minor patient Mr. B. The hearing into the allegations took place on 13 hearing days between August 16, 2001, and August 9, 2002. The panel heard evidence from 12 witnesses, including three expert witnesses, and reviewed more than 100 exhibits. In addition, the panel received written submissions regarding the evidence from the Member and CCO, and heard two days of oral submissions regarding the evidence.

Decision

After hearing the evidence and reviewing submissions, the panel determined that the above noted allegations were proven and that there was insufficient evidence to support certain other allegations, including allegations concerning Mr. B (not included above). The hearing reconvened in 2002 to address the issues of penalty and costs.

Reasons

A summary of the panel's reasons are outlined below.

Allegation 1 (Verbal, Psychological, and Emotional Abuse)

During the period January 12, 1999, to April 7, 1999, the Member abused Ms A verbally, psychologically and emotionally by telling Ms A

a. "You aren't working with me;
b. that she was spoiled;
c. that she needed to smile more and that it was her fault that she wasn't getting better; and
d. that she needed an "attitude adjustment."

The panel found that the Member's words displayed a complete lack of empathy for Ms A and were abusive to an emotionally and physically weakened patient who needed primary support and encouragement.

In addition, the panel found that the Member intimidated Ms A as was evidenced by her reluctance to tell him about ceasing to take a dietary supplement. Intimidation was also evidenced by the fact that Ms A and her mother agreed to allow Ms A to have a private talk with the Member, although neither felt comfortable about it.

Allegation 2 (Unprofessional Conduct)

During the period January 12, 1999, to April 7, 1999, the Member engaged in conduct or performed an act or acts that, having regard for the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as unprofessional, relating to the following comments made to Ms A and her mother:

a. "During a telephone call with Ms A's mother, the Member made a comment to her about the harm caused by Ms A's prescribed medications, and stated that Ms A's mother or the medications were "killing" Ms A. The panel found these remarks to be unacceptable and inappropriate, as they insinuated that Ms A's mother would voluntarily harm her daughter.
b. The Member tried to discredit another chiropractor by telling Ms A's mother about a lawsuit against the chiropractor years earlier.
c. The Member failed to respect Ms A's mother's decision that it was necessary for Ms A to remain on her prescribed medications. Instead, he tried to pressure Ms A and her mother to discontinue the medications.
d. The Member tried to blame others, including:

(i). Ms A, for not getting better. The panel found this was demeaning to Ms A to insinuate she was at fault for not getting better because of a poor attitude;
(ii). Ms A's mother, for not providing a detailed case history, when it was his responsibility as a health professional to obtain one;
(iii). his staff, for making errors in documentation, billing, and in providing documents to Ms A's mother and another chiropractor; and
(iv). another chiropractor for instigating the complaint to CCO rather than acknowledging that he could have handled things better.

Allegation 3 (Failing to maintain the record-keeping standard of practice)

During the period January 12, 1999, to April 7, 1999, the Member contravened a standard of practice of the profession or failed to maintain the standards of practice expected by members of the profession, as demonstrated by substandard record keeping concerning Ms A. The panel found the case history of Ms A was inadequate and that there were multiple errors on the "travel card."

Allegation 4 (Providing therapeutic services that are not necessary)

During the period January 12, 1999, to April 7, 1999, the Member provided therapeutic services that were not necessary to Ms A. The Member never performed any reassessment of Ms A's treatment or a progress examination. The panel noted that the Member himself recommended that patients be reassessed regularly to determine the therapeutic necessity of continuing treatments, and that the Member and three experts who testified in the case were basically in agreement that progress exams should generally be conducted every 24 visits. The panel determined that since the Member never conducted a progress examination on Ms A, it was impossible to determine the therapeutic necessity of his continuing treatment.

Allegation 5 (Using an unapproved term, title or designation)

The Member used a term, title or designation indicating a specialization in the profession contrary to the policies of CCO, and in particular Policy P-029, with respect to Ms A and her mother. The Member concluded letters to CCO and to Ms A's mother with his letters of qualification, including "F.I.C.P.A.," a designation that is not currently recognized by CCO. In addition, he inferred he was a pediatric chiropractor and held himself out to be Ms A's primary care physician.

Penalty

On August 2, 2002, the panel reached its decision regarding penalty, namely:

Costs

Following receipt of submissions, the panel ordered the Member to pay costs to CCO in the amount of $87,948.58 on a prescribed payment schedule.

Appeal Dismissed (Reported in 2003 Annual Report)

In 2003, the Divisional Court unanimously dismissed the Member’s appeal as to the findings of professional misconduct and his appeal as to penalty and costs, and ordered the Member to pay the costs of the appeal to CCO in the amount of $28,667.70.

This page was revised on July 1, 2009.

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