Complaint against doctor who sucks baby blood (through a tube)by Hugh Young
A doctors' disciplinary body in Toronto is considering a complaint against a doctor who performs circumcision using oral suction (metzitzah) to remove blood from the wound.
Dr Aaron Jesin practises as both a doctor and a mohel. He says he does not suck the wound directly (metzitzah b'peh), but through a glass tube.
A Toronto resident brought a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario, (CPSO) alleging a dangerous lack of antisepsis and unnecessary blood loss.
The College dismissed the complaint, but the complainant appealed against the dismissal to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, (HPARB).
About 12 demonstrators supported the complaint outside the hearing. One had a lifelike doll in a circumstraint™ with clamps on its penis.
The Chair began by ruling out any discussion of the merits or demerits of circumcision, nor any use of the Canadian Charter of Rights, saying only the victim could use the Charter. He specifically said the rule had been changed because of the Baby Y death case. [Catch 22! You can't use the Charter unless you're dead....]
(Baby Y died in Ontario days after his urethra was blocked by a Plastibell™. Neither the College of Physicians and Surgeons nor the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board found any fault with the doctors involved.)
Canada and Ontario both have case law that suggests the Charter is so fundamental it can be raised in any setting, but this body somehow exempted itself.
The complainant was represented by John Geisheker, attorney for Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC). He was interrupted when he tried to discuss the lack of any regulation of circumcision. Instead he relied on the CPSO's admission that it had not investigated Dr Jesin's claim that he "does not do direct oral suction".
The Board Chair asked what the investigation should have entailed. Mr Geisheker replied, “Perhaps observing Dr Jesin at a circumcision, or inquiring from his staff would have been a better method than just reading his explanatory letters.”
He said Public Health Canada has published best practices in perinatology [health of young babies], and that the practice of metzitzah - even modified by use of a 10cc syringe, 3 inches (7.5 cm) long - still poses a health risk that would certainly violate PHC standards.
"How could one get only 3in or 7.5cm away from a child’s open wound, with a bare face, and not risk wound contamination by hair, dander [dandruff], sputum [saliva], etc.?" Mr Geisheker asked. Also at issue is whether Dr Jesin is regulated by the CPSO when he is acting as a Mohel. The complaint argues that he is.
The Board is considering its decision, which could involve sending the case back to the College for further investigation.
Mr Geisheker, from Seattle, took the case pro bono (free) supported by donations raised by Toronto Circumcision Resources