A foot specialist who was a former dentist, admitted to an act of medical misconduct – where he treated at least 25 patients between 2014 and 2016 with an implant he manufactured in a machine shop, and using it without their full knowledge or consent.

The chiropodist Pierre Dupont conceded that his foot stent – an implant used to treat flat feet or fallen arches – were not approved by Health Canada.

According to the Go Public/Radio-Canada investigation, the experimental implants did not meet the standard requirements of the approved stent, HyProCure.

The stent on the right is the legitimate Health Canada implant. The one on the left is the knock-off. Photo credit: CBC
The stent on the right is the legitimate Health Canada implant. The one on the left is the knock-off. Photo credit: CBC

However, it was alleged that Dupont did not believe that approval was necessary because “the nature, composition and design was the same”, and he did not intend to sell his stent to other healthcare professionals.

Reading aloud his statement before the committee of the College of Chiropodists of Ontario, Dupont agreed to never practise chiropody in Ontario again.

"I would like to express my sincere apology for acting in an unprofessional manner,” he said, while some patients looked on.

"My behaviour was inexcusable. Many of you are angry with me and you have the right be. You trusted me and… I let you down."

Clients were misled to believe that the approved stent was used

The College of Chiropodists found that clients were unsuspecting as they had signed a consent form, before procedures, with the understanding that the HyProCure stent would be inserted, when, in fact, it was replaced by Dupont’s stent during surgery.

Besides investigations showed that Dupont had failed to document the procedures from initial examinations to post-station visits.

Within the two-year period, the experimental stent had inflicted endless pain on the patients. Till today, many victims – including small children – still experience pain and are unable to walk as they once did.

An ex-patient, George Morrison, who flew in from Nova Scotia for the hearing, ranted that he would need two more expensive surgeries to get the implants replaced.

“All my days start with a ‘calculation of the agony for the chronic ankle pain,’ ” Morrison said. “Daily activities revolve around how much ankle pain I can tolerate,” he added.

Similarly for Erika Brathwaite, Dupont’s stent has strained her finances, as well as her physical movement and mental health. She will need a major bone and tendon surgery to get her foot back to normal after a six-month recovery period.

“This experience with Pierre Dupont has impacted my life catastrophically, has left me uncertain of my future, has seen me sacrifice my anonymity,” expressed Brathwaite.

Brathwaite went to Dupont for orthotics and ended up getting surgery that has left her with pain she says she never had before. Photo credit: Paul Skene/CBC
Brathwaite went to Dupont for orthotics and ended up getting surgery that has left her with pain she says she never had before. Photo credit: Paul Skene/CBC

In his defence, Dupont acknowledged he used that brand name in the contracts given to patients because he didn't think it was necessary to replace the forms in order to remove the brand.

“I don't know how accurate it is when he says he doesn't know," Brathwaite said. “He's an intelligent man… I think the punishment was just.”

Dupont’s conduct disgraced the profession, college said

The college described Dupont’s conduct as “disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional,” and violated many provincial health regulations as well as the Food and Drugs Act.

“You have brought discredit to yourself and the college,” said a board member. “You have put the profession in jeopardy.”

The foot specialist and his business, Ottawa Foot Practice, could face a USD15 million class action lawsuit, which seeks compensation on behalf of the affected clients. The college was initially named in the class action, but earlier this year, the plaintiff and college agreed to a dismissal of the claims against it.

Dupont was fined USD30,000 and given an oral reprimand. His licence to practice chiropody in Ontario was revoked.

Jordan Glick, the college’s counsel, said this was a unique case because “he preyed on vulnerable patients and experimented on them without their knowledge.”

“A dark past” – former dentist linked with the death of a patient

Dupont practised as a dentist for a decade but it was far from good as patients in Quebec filed complaints against him. In one instance, tribunal documents showed he had missed the diagnosis of a patient’s broken jaw and had prescribed medication that was not required or in inappropriate doses.

In 2005, one of his patients died during a dental surgery and Dupont lost his license then and was banned for life.

Moving to Ontario, the unfettered dentist retrained as a foot specialist and though the College of Chiropodists of Ontario knew about his past, they allowed his re-entry to the medical profession, without alerting the public.

Dupont, a graduate from the podiatry program at the Université du Québec á Trois-Rivières, had made attempts to legally practise podiatry in Quebec. Later, he moved to Ottawa and was given a certificate of registration to practise by the College of Chiropodists.

Dupont maintained he did not hide his past and was transparent about it during the interview.

“They do their due diligence,” he said. “Everything has been disclosed and presented to a committee, the admission committee, and they made a decision accordingly.”

His lawyer Megan Savard explained that the college is not pursuing incompetence against Dupont, and any allegations of physical harm heard in the impact statements had not been tested or commented on by expert opinion.

Dupont has agreed to pay a portion of the costs of the college’s investigation into this matter, Savard added.

In reading the statements on behalf of Dupont’s family, friends and colleagues, Savard said he was “a caring man, a thoughtful practitioner” and “that he cares about the people in his life.”

“He may have to start over in a new line of work at an age most people retire,” she said. MIMS

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