College of Physicians & Surgeons Revokes License of Ontario Psychiatrist Karin Kerfoot

January 30, 2020

Dr. Karin Kerfoot was a psychiatrist who practised at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) until two and a half years ago, when her licence was suspended after she was accused of having an ongoing relationship with a patient.

At a hearing in Toronto, a panel of five members of a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario discipline committee ordered Kerfoot's medical licence be revoked, effective immediately.

She was also ordered to pay $10,000 to cover the cost of the hearing and to put up $16,000 in case the patient ever wants to get therapy for her sexual abuse.

Kerfoot did not attend Monday's hearing in Toronto. She was ordered to come in the future to face a reprimand in front of the discipline panel.

"She betrayed the profession, members of the public, and her patient," said college lawyer Morgana Kellythorne. "The emotional distress of the patient was entirely foreseeable. There must be zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of a patient by a physician."

The day-long hearing heard that Kerfoot began treating the patient in January 2015, when he was admitted at Victoria Hospital after coming to the emergency room.

Kerfoot continued to act as the patient's psychiatrist, both as an outpatient and on occasions when he was admitted to hospital for his mental health struggles, which included an eating disorder, depression, self harm and thoughts of suicide.

Hotels, WhatsApp messages

Four months after she first saw him, the two arranged to go to a bar together, and ended up in a hotel room. The relationship continued until June 2016, and included multiple stays in London hotels, a trip to Toronto and text exchanges using the messaging service WhatsApp.

In June 2016, the patient was accused of inappropriate contact with another patient at Victoria Hospital and was escorted by security from LHSC grounds.

In mid-June, he went to LHSC staff to report the inappropriate sexual contact, but Kerfoot denied it, the discipline committee heard. She also denied the relationship in August, when contacted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

"She was dishonest with the college and with the hospital," Kellythorne said.

In September 2017, Kerfoot was suspended pending the result of an investigation and discipline hearing.

Kerfoot's lawyer was there to plead "no contest," which means Kerfoot accepts the agreed statement of facts, but does not accept guilt.

"I no longer trust psychiatrists. My relationship with doctors is non-existent," the patient said during his victim impact statement.

"I went to the hospital to ask for help because I trusted doctors and then I ended up in an affair that lasted almost 16 months with my treating psychiatrist," he said.

"I want all of this to be over and close this part of my life off for good."

Can re-apply in 5 years

The relationship is especially "abhorrent" because of the patient's medical history, Kellythorne said.

"This patient had the vulnerabilities that any patient would have, but also in particular this patient had the added vulnerability of self-harm, depression, suicidality, and the vulnerability around his housing situation," she added.

The patient often lived at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope, the discipline committee heard.

Kerfoot's lawyer asked that the psychiatrist not have to put up the $16,000 credit in case the patient wanted therapy in the future, and that the licence revocation be backdated to September 2017, when Kerfoot was first suspended.

The college rejected those requests.

Kerfoot can go before a committee in five years to ask to have her licence reinstated.

Source: “London, Ont., psychiatrist loses licence after sexual abuse of patient,” CBC News, January 27, 2020. URL:


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