Edmonton doctor accused of spiking colleagues drink: CPSA

File: A person wearing a stethoscope around their neck. Joe Raedle, Getty Images

An Edmonton doctor who allegedly spiked his colleague’s drink remains silent despite several requests by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) regarding the allegations.

Dr. Max Klein was found guilty of unprofessional conduct by the CPSA on Thursday stemming from an incident in January 2015. The CPSA is the provincial regulator for all physicians, physician assistants and surgeons and is governed by the Health Professions Act.

According to the hearing tribunal decision, the victim was a female head and neck doctor at the University of Alberta and had little interaction with Klein — a fifth-year resident in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) program at the U of A at the time. Other than work, the pair had not previously socialized.

According to the tribunal, on Jan. 20, 2015, Klein asked the victim to go out for a beer, and though she initially declined, she later agreed to meet up with Klein on Jan. 23 thinking it was “to explain his absences and behavior.”

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In her testimony, the victim met with her husband for dinner that Friday (Jan. 23), went to the hospital to observe an emergency operating room case and then around 8 p.m. met with Klein to go for the beer they had agreed upon earlier in the week. The victim said she was “under the impression that another resident might be joining them, but this did not happen.”

As Klein was driving them to a restaurant, the victim claims he said he would rather get a snack from a fast food place, which the pair did, and then he pulled into the parking lot. The testimony alleges Klein “produced a bottle of gin and two bottles of grapefruit juice” that was already in the vehicle and proceeded to mix drinks.

The victim was unaware as to whether the bottles had been previously opened, and claimed the drink tasted “bitter and strong,” which she attributed to the gin. She then claimed they swapped bottles around 8:45 p.m. but she only took one sip from the drink Klein had which she said “tasted different to her.”

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At this point, the pair was driving around the city and the victim felt as though the conversation became “increasingly inappropriate” as Klein made comments about previous sexual experiences, commented on the victim’s appearance, and raised an incident that had happened to the victim when she was a medical student. It’s alleged Klein also attempted to touch the victim’s knee and thigh.

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Around 10 p.m., the victim arrived at home as she started to “feel strange sensations of numbness” not associated with alcohol and asked to be dropped off.

Once inside, the victim’s strange symptoms increased and she noticed her pupils were quite large. Around 11:30 p.m the victim asked her husband to take her to emergency as she suspected she had been drugged.

At this point, the victim sent a text to Klein asking if he had put something in the drink and told him her symptoms, to which he responded with several texts, denying he had put anything in her drink and attributed her symptoms to the alcohol she drank.

A toxicology report would prove her suspicions to be true. An emergency room doctor told her the results for alcohol were negative and that it was positive for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA or ecstasy.

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According to a news release, Dr. Klein’s registration with the CPSA has been inactive since August 2015 and he did not attend the hearing.

Further documents were submitted by Dr. Michael Caffaro, who joined the College in April 2015 as complaints director, and transitioned into the role by July. An undertaking was discussed with Klein’s legal team in March 2015, less than a month after the victim issued her complaint.

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The email sent also stated that the College was willing to “stay” the investigation into the complaint, pending the outcome of a police investigation, at the suggestion of Klein’s legal team. However, come September, a different memo by Caffaro on the situation following a conversation with Klein’s legal team stated there were three processes involving Klein outside the College’s domain and according to Klein’s lawyer, the police investigation had been dropped; however, the University of Alberta had made a decision to ban Klein from campus and Alberta Health Services had also formally terminated Klein.

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After considering the evidence presented, along with testimony from several witnesses including the victim, the victim’s husband, an expert witness who specialized in toxicology, the hearing tribunal ruled the allegations had been proven and found Klein guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Both Klein and the CPSA will now make submissions to the tribunal regarding sanction and cost recovery.

The former doctor could be subject to a variety of sanctions which could include educational courses, losing his practice license for a certain amount of time or indefinitely, and being monitored while in practice.

Global News reached out to both Klein and his legal counsel at the time of the decision for comment but has not yet received a response.

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