Regulator criticizes Halifax doctor for advertising ‘fat melting’ treatment

File Photo.
File Photo. File/Getty Images

A Nova Scotia doctor has been criticized by the province’s medical regulator for describing his treatments as capable of melting fat.

Dr. Christian Hackshaw is also cited in the Sept. 1 decision for not always informing his patients’ family physicians of what treatment he offered and for issues in his documentation of cases.

His AdvanceMD clinic in Halifax says on its website that it is an “anti-aging clinic,” and medical fitness centre.

In the decision, the College of Physicians and Surgeons says Hackshaw had argued before the board that the term “fat melting” was used to help patients understand he uses a device that resulted in the destruction of fat.

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“Regarding the term ‘fat melting,’ Dr. Hackshaw states he uses this term because a layperson would not likely understand the actual term, which is ‘apoptosis’ of adipose tissue. He reports that the device does indeed cause fat cell destruction, so his use of the lay term is not misleading,” notes the report, from the college’s investigation committee.

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But the committee said fat burning was a misleading description.

After the complaint was made in 2015, Hackshaw removed references to his office “specializing” in anti-aging medicine, as the college pointed out this isn’t a medical specialty.

The committee report says Hackshaw has been “reprimanded for misrepresenting his skills and treatment.”

Hackshaw has been ordered to stop referring to himself as a “double-board certified” physician in family practice and anti-aging medicine.

The decision says at the time of the complaint Hackshaw’s website had included a biography where the doctor made that claim.

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In addition, the decision says that Hackshaw admitted to ordering lab work that is publicly funded through the Nova Scotia Health Authority for his private clinic patients. It said that was a matter for the Health Department to consider.

An auditor appointed by the college found Hackshaw “didn’t meet the expected standard of a family physician, or of a family physician with special interests.”

The auditor’s criticisms included that Hackshaw’s records on patients “consistently lacked detail.”

He was asked to go through a clinician assessment and enhancement program operated out of Manitoba, and received a score “within the acceptable range for a practising physician.”

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The committee says it had made recommendations regarding his practice and adherence to the profession’s standards and guidelines. However, those were not available, and Hackshaw was not immediately available for comment.