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Barwin, Bernard Norman

CPSO#: 28666

MEMBER STATUS
Revoked: Discipline Committee as of 25 Jun 2019
CURRENT OR PAST CPSO REGISTRATION CLASS
None as of 15 Feb 2012

Summary

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Former Name: No Former Name

Gender: Male

Languages Spoken: Afrikaans, English

Education: Queen's University Belfast School of Med, 1965

Practice Information

Primary Location of Practice
Practice Address Not Available

Medical Records Location

Address: Accuro Health Services 18-700 Industrial Avenue Ottawa, ON K1G 0Y9 Telephone: 613-738-1242 Fax: 613-738-0562 Website: http://www.accuro.ca
Date Received: 02 Sep 2014

Specialties

Specialty Issued On Type
No Speciality Reported

Registration History

Action Issue Date
First certificate of registration issued: Temporary Employment Practice Certificate Effective: 27 Jul 1973
Transfer of class of registration to: Independent Practice Certificate Effective: 17 Aug 1976
Transfer of class of certificate to: Restricted certificate Effective: 15 Feb 2012
Terms and conditions imposed on certificate Effective: 15 Feb 2012
Suspension of registration imposed: Discipline Committee Effective: 31 Jan 2013
Suspension of registration removed Effective: 31 Mar 2013
Expired: Resigned from membership. Expiry: 30 Aug 2014
Revoked: Discipline Committee. Effective: 25 Jun 2019

Previous Hearings

Committee: Discipline
Decision Date: 25 Jun 2019
Summary:

On June 25, 2019, the Discipline Committee found that Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin committed an act of professional misconduct in that he failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession, and in that he engaged in acts or omissions relevant to the practice of medicine that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional. The Discipline Committee also found that Dr. Barwin is incompetent.

Bernard Norman Barwin (“Dr. Barwin”) is an 80-year-old former physician who received his certificate of registration authorizing independent practice from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (the “College”) on August 17, 1976. Dr. Barwin resigned his certificate of registration with the College on August 30, 2014. At the relevant times, Dr. Barwin practised at the Ottawa General Hospital and later at a clinic in Ottawa, Ontario. Dr. Barwin’s practice involved infertility, hormone therapy, weight loss and transgender care.

Patient A and Ms AA

In around 1989, Patient A went to Dr. Barwin with her husband for infertility treatment in order to conceive a child. Patient A’s husband stored sperm with Dr. Barwin, which Dr. Barwin was to use to artificially inseminate Patient A.

Patient A and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic on a number of occasions in 1989 for insemination attempts. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient A that he was inseminating her with her husband’s sperm. At each insemination attempt, Dr. Barwin showed Patient A and her husband the straw containing the sperm that he was using to inseminate Patient A. Dr. Barwin asked Patient A and her husband to verify that her husband’s initials or name were on it, in order to verify that Dr. Barwin was using Patient A’s husband’s sperm for the inseminations.

Patient A conceived through the infertility treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had a daughter, Ms AA, in 1990.

From the time of her birth until her young adult years, Patient A, her husband and Ms AA believed that Ms AA was the biological daughter of Patient A’s husband.

In 2016, Ms AA was diagnosed with celiac disease, which is genetic. Patient A and her husband do not have celiac disease. Ms AA and Patient A’s husband underwent blood testing. Ms AA’s blood type is O+, but Patient A’s husband’s blood type is AB. Patient A’s family learned that it is impossible for a person with type AB blood to conceive a child with type O blood. Patient A’s family underwent DNA testing, which revealed that Patient A’s husband was not Ms AA’s biological father. Patient A, her husband, and Ms AA were shocked.

Patient B and Ms BB

In around 1990, Patient B and her husband went to Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment. Patient B and her husband decided to try to conceive a child through artificial insemination using sperm from an anonymous donor. Patient B and her husband were shown a donor card with biographical information about the donor, including that he was a medical student. They selected this donor because of certain traits and characteristics the donor had that were important to them.

Patient B and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic on a number of occasions for insemination attempts. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient B and her husband that all of the insemination attempts were performed using the anonymous donor sperm they had selected.

Through the infertility treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, Patient B became pregnant, and had a daughter, Ms BB, in the early 1990’s.

Until late 2015, Patient B and her family believed that Ms BB was conceived with anonymous donor sperm.

In the summer of 2015, Ms BB became curious about her genetic background and decided to look for half-siblings. She contacted an online DNA registry, which matched her with a second cousin of hers.

Through contact with her second cousin and family tree research, Ms BB determined that her second cousin was a relative of Dr. Barwin. Ms BB began to suspect that Dr. Barwin was her biological father.

Ms BB contacted Dr. Barwin to inquire whether he was her biological father. Dr. Barwin arranged for a DNA test and, in an email dated October 27, 2015, confirmed to Ms BB that he was her biological father.

Dr. Barwin also sent an email dated April 22, 2016, to Patient B’s husband, and met with him to discuss the matter. In these emails and when he met with them, Dr. Barwin told Ms BB and Patient B’s husband that he did not know how this had happened and that the only occasion he had used his own semen was when he was calibrating an automatic sperm counter. This was false. Patient B and her husband felt betrayed and violated by Dr. Barwin.

In September 2015, Ms BB and Ms AA compared their DNA test results, which strongly suggested that they were half-siblings. Further DNA testing confirmed that they were half-sisters by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father.

Civil Proceeding

Dr. Barwin is now the defendant in a class action lawsuit from his former patients and their children. It is alleged that:
- 50-100 children were conceived after their mothers received the wrong semen from Dr. Barwin;
- Of these, 11 children are genetically matched to Dr. Barwin through DNA testing with Ms AA and/or Ms BB

The class action was commenced in 2016 and attracted media coverage. The College initiated an investigation on the basis of the media coverage.

Patient C

Patient C and her husband were referred to Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment around 1975 -1976. They decided to try to conceive a child through artificial insemination performed by Dr. Barwin. Patient C’s husband provided sperm samples to Dr. Barwin, which were to be used to inseminate Patient C.

Patient C and her husband attended at the hospital for a number of insemination attempts performed by Dr. Barwin. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient C that all of the inseminations were performed using her husband’s sperm.

After a number of attempts, Patient C conceived through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had twins, a boy and a girl, in the late 1970’s. Dr. Barwin also provided pre-natal care to Patient C.

Until 2016, Patient C had complete trust in Dr. Barwin and believed that her children were the biological children of her husband. Patient C continued to see Dr. Barwin for routine gynaecological care for ten to fifteen years after her children were born.

Patient C and her husband raised their two children. They always believed them to be the biological children of Patient C’s husband.

In 2016, Patient C and her husband saw media coverage about Ms AA and Ms BB. They subsequently obtained DNA testing for their children, which confirmed that their twin children are not the biological children of her husband, and that they are the half-siblings of Ms AA and Ms BB by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father.

Patient D

Patient D and her husband went to see Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 1975-1977 in order to conceive a child through artificial insemination performed by Dr. Barwin using Patient D’s husband’s sperm.

Patient D conceived through the artificial insemination treatment performed by Dr. Barwin. Her son was born in the late 1970’s.

Patient D raised her son believing him to be the biological son of her husband.

In 2016, Patient D’s son saw media coverage about Ms AA and Ms BB, and noted similarities in appearance between Ms AA and Ms BB and himself. When he was in school, people had often jokedt hat they thought he was adopted. Patient D’s son subsequently underwent DNA testing, which confirmed that he is the half-sibling of Ms AA by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father.

Patient E

Patient E and her husband went to Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 1982. They were unable to conceive children and decided to try to conceive a child through artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. The insemination was to be performed by Dr. Barwin using donor sperm chosen by Patient E, which Dr. Barwin represented was provided by an anonymous local medical student. Patient E specifically requested that Dr. Barwin use a donor who resembled her husband.

Patient E and her husband attended at the hospital to see Dr. Barwin for a number of insemination attempts. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient E that all of the inseminations were performed using the donor sperm chosen by Patient E.

Patient E conceived through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had a daughter in the 1980’s.

Patient E and her husband returned to Dr. Barwin again for infertility treatment in 1986. Patient E again underwent artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. The insemination was to be performed by Dr. Barwin using the same donor sperm as was used for her daughter, so that her daughter would have a full biological sibling. Patient E told Dr. Barwin that this was very important to her, and Dr. Barwin told her that it was the same donor.

Patient E conceived again, and gave birth to another daughter in the late 1980’s.

Patient E often felt that her first daughter resembled Dr. Barwin, but she would push those thoughts aside because she could not believe that Dr. Barwin would have used his sperm to father her child. Patient E and her husband saw media coverage about Ms AA in 2016, and noticed that Ms AA resembled their first daughter. Patient E’s daughters subsequently underwent DNA testing, which confirmed that her first daughter is the half-sibling of Ms AA by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father. DNA testing revealed that Patient E’s other daughter is not the biological child of Dr. Barwin. This means that Patient E’s children are biological maternal half-siblings, rather than biological full siblings. Patient E’s family found this traumatic.

Patient F

Patient F and her husband went to see Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 1989. Patient F decided to undergo artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. The artificial insemination was to be performed by Dr. Barwin using donor sperm chosen by Patient F from an anonymous local medical student. Dr. Barwin told Patient F and her husband some information about the donor’s background, appearance and interests. Patient F requested that Dr. Barwin use this donor for her alone. It was important to her to have children who were full biological siblings.

Patient F and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic for a number of insemination attempts. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient F and her husband that all of the inseminations were performed using sperm from her chosen donor.

Patient F became pregnant through treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had a daughter in the 1990’s.

Patient F and her husband returned to Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 1992. Patient F again underwent artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. The artificial insemination was to be performed by Dr. Barwin using the same donor as for her first daughter, so that her daughter would have a full biological sibling. Dr. Barwin knew that Patient F wanted to have children who were biological siblings, and assured her that the sperm from her previous donor had been saved and would be used for her alone.

Patient F became pregnant through Dr. Barwin’s treatment a second time, and her son was born in the 1990’s.

In 2017, Patient F saw media coverage about Ms AA, who she saw resembled her daughter. Patient F’s daughter subsequently underwent DNA testing, which confirmed that she is the half-sibling of Ms AA by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father. The DNA testing also confirmed that Patient F’s son is not the biological child of Dr. Barwin. This means that Patient F’s children are biological maternal half-siblings, rather than biological full siblings.

Mr. G

Mr. G was born in the late 1980’s. When he was in his twenties, Mr. G’s parents told him that they had received fertility treatments to conceive him through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Ottawa.

In around 2016 or 2017, Mr. G registered his DNA on a DNA registry website, which put him in contact with Dr. Barwin’s family member. Dr. Barwin’s family member told Mr. G about Ms AA and Dr. Barwin.

Mr. G subsequently underwent DNA testing, which confirmed that he is the half-sibling of Ms AA by way of the same biological father. Dr. Barwin is that biological father.

Patient H

Patient H and her husband went to see Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 2002 in order to conceive a child. Patient H and her husband decided to try to conceive a child through artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. Initially, the inseminations were to be performed by Dr. Barwin using her husband’s sperm, but after a number of attempts Patient H and her husband decided to try using donor sperm that she and her husband selected from a sperm bank, based on characteristics that were important to them.

Patient H and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic for a number of insemination attempts. At each appointment, Dr. Barwin showed Patient H the vial to verify that the donor number was printed on the label and that he was using the donor sperm she and her husband had chosen. 

Patient H became pregnant through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and her son was born in the early 2000’s.

Patient H later tried to have a second child through artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. This child was supposed to be a full biological sibling of her son. Patient H purchased all the remaining samples from her donor and underwent several more treatments with Dr. Barwin. Dr. Barwin told Patient H that he would split the remaining samples and only use half of a vial at each attempt, in order to make them last longer. Patient H did not conceive another child.

After seeing media coverage about Ms AA and Ms BB in November 2016, Patient H looked for the donor on a donor sibling registry website. The donor that she had selected had voluntarily put his contact information on the site. Patient H contacted the donor and obtained DNA testing for her son and her chosen donor, which confirmed that her son is not the biological child of the donor she had chosen. The testing also confirmed that her son is not a half-sibling of Ms AA or Ms BB.

Patient H’s son has learning disabilities. She is unable to locate any information about the medical history of her son’s biological father. This has been very difficult for Patient H.

Patient I

Patient I and her husband were not able to have children, so they attended Dr. Barwin for infertility treatments in around 1987-1988. Patient I decided to try to have children through artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. Patient I was to receive artificial insemination for two children, both from the same anonymous donor. Dr. Barwin told Patient I that the donor was a local medical student and gave Patient I some information about the donor, including that he had a similar background and the same blood type as Patient I’s husband. Dr. Barwin only ever provided Patient I with a single donor profile.

Patient I and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic for a number of insemination attempts. Dr. Barwin represented to Patient I that he performed all of her inseminations with sperm from the same donor.

Patient I conceived twice through treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had two children: a daughter born in the late 1980’s, and a son born in the late 1980’s.

Patient I always trusted Dr. Barwin to use the same donor sperm for all inseminations. As such, she believed that her children were full biological siblings.

After Patient I heard about the lawsuit involving Dr. Barwin, she obtained DNA testing for her children, which confirmed that they are biological maternal half-siblings rather than biological full siblings.

Patient J
Patient J and her husband attended Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in around 2003 and 2005. Patient J’s husband provided samples of his semen that were frozen in 2002, which Dr. Barwin was to use to artificially inseminate her.

Patient J and her husband attended at Dr. Barwin’s clinic for a number of insemination attempts. At each appointment, Dr. Barwin showed Patient J and her husband the vial, with her husband’s name and date of birth printed on the sticker, in order to verify that he was using her husband’s sperm. During the inseminations, Dr. Barwin had Patient J’s husband push the plunger on the syringe, which was supposed to contain his sperm.

Patient J conceived through treatment provided by Dr. Barwin twice and had two children: a daughter, born in the early 2000’s; and a son, born in the mid-2000’s.

In 2016, Patient J saw media coverage about Ms AA and Ms BB. Patient J subsequently obtained DNA testing for her children that confirmed that her husband was not their biological father.

Patient J’s children are full biological siblings. Through DNA registry websites, Patient J was able to track down the donor that was used to conceive her children. The news that Patient J’s children are not the biological children of her husband was very difficult for their family.

Patient K

Patient K attended Dr. Barwin for fertility treatment in around 1991-1993. Patient K underwent 11 artificial insemination procedures provided by Dr. Barwin. The artificial insemination was supposed to be performed using sperm from a donor selected by Patient K from donor profiles provided by Dr. Barwin.

Patient K reviewed the donor profiles Dr. Barwin provided and selected a donor based on the donor’s medical history. The donor number selected by Patient K was stored in her patient chart, and Dr. Barwin represented to Patient K that all of her inseminations were performed using the donor sperm she had selected.

Patient K conceived through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and her son was born in the early 1990’s.

Patient K decided to have a second child, and returned to Dr. Barwin for further artificial inseminations after her son was born. The insemination was supposed to be performed by Dr. Barwin using the same donor she had chosen for her son. Dr. Barwin knew that Patient K wanted her son to have a full biological sibling.

Patient K became pregnant again through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and had a daughter, born in the early 1990’s.

After her daughter was born, Patient K requested a copy of the donor profile she selected from Dr. Barwin. Dr. Barwin provided Patient K with a donor profile that was not the one she had selected for her children. When Patient K pointed out to Dr. Barwin that the profile she had been given was not the donor she had selected, Dr. Barwin told Patient K that she should just be happy that she had two children. Patient K was upset, because it was important to her for Dr. Barwin to have used the donor selected and to have the information about that donor.

After seeing media coverage about the lawsuit against Dr. Barwin, Patient K obtained DNA testing for her children, which confirmed that they are biological maternal half-siblings, rather than biological full siblings. This confirmed that, contrary to what she had been told at Dr. Barwin’s clinic, Dr. Barwin did not use the same donor for both of her children.

Patient L

Patient L went to see Dr. Barwin for fertility treatment in around 1994-1996. She underwent artificial insemination provided by Dr. Barwin. The artificial insemination was supposed to be performed by Dr. Barwin using donor sperm. Dr. Barwin provided Patient L with background information on the donor, including ancestry, height, and eye colour.

Patient L conceived through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and her son was born in the early- 1990’s.

Patient L returned to Dr. Barwin for further artificial insemination after her son was born. Dr. Barwin was supposed to perform the insemination with the same sperm donor as was used for her son.

Patient L conceived again, and her daughter was born in the mid 1990’s.

Patient L’s two children have undergone DNA testing, which confirmed that they are not biological full siblings, and that Dr. Barwin did not use the same donor sperm for both of Patient L’s children.

Patient M

Patient M and her husband went to see Dr. Barwin for infertility treatment in 2002. Patient M’s husband had previously frozen his semen prior to receiving treatment for a medical condition. Patient M underwent a number of artificial inseminations provided by Dr. Barwin. Dr. Barwin was to use the sperm Patient M’s husband had previously frozen and provided to Dr. Barwin. At the appointments, Dr. Barwin showed Patient M the straw with her husband’s name and birth date on it in order to verify that he was using her husband’s sperm.

Patient M conceived through the treatment provided by Dr. Barwin, and her daughter was born in the early 2000’s.

After Patient M saw media coverage about Dr. Barwin, she obtained DNA testing for her daughter. The DNA test confirmed that her daughter is not the biological daughter of Patient M’s husband.

Patient M’s daughter grew up believing Patient M’s husband to be her father. Patient M and her husband have not told their daughter that Patient M’s husband is not her biological father. Patient M and her husband have had a difficult time as a result of the news that Patient M’s husband is not her child’s father.

College Expert

The College retained Dr. Edward G. Hughes, an experienced obstetrician/gynecologist who practices fertility medicine and works as a faculty member at McMaster University, to review this matter and opine on Dr. Barwin’s care. In his reports, Dr. Hughes opined as follows:
Was Dr. Barwin’s care below the standard for the relevant time period?
My response to this question is based on the practice of other REI [Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility] clinics and physicians at that time and what was taught to Residents and Fellows in training. It was always made clear to these clinicians, that preparing and administering gametes to patients is a very serious process with a debt of care to both the potential parent(s) and unborn children.

As such, profound care and diligence were expected and required in this process, similar in many ways to the administration of a blood transfusion or the transplantation of an organ. Failure to get this right could result in serious harm to recipients and their children. And yet the actual process of handling and administering gametes was and is, straightforward. It requires great care and attention to detail, but the steps required are simple: careful cleaning, preparation, identification and labeling, careful handling of gametes then multiple cross-checking with staff and the recipient-patient(s). Careful, accurate and secure record keeping is also mandatory. This degree of care and attention ensures that patients receive the correct sample: the one with which they expected to be inseminated.

Dr. Barwin’s handling and administration of gametes to his patients fell well below the expected standard of care. […] That standard was to provide safe, effective and secure management of patients’ gametes, to communicate with them clearly and honestly about the nature of the husband- or donor- sample being used for insemination and to keep accurate and complete records of what has transpired. Repeatedly, over several decades, his care fell below this standard. However, it is the scale of this deficiency that’s startling, with up to 51 cases so far identified with the wrong paternal DNA and 11 so far identified with Dr. Barwin’s as the biological father.”

Lack of knowledge, skill or judgment?
...
Though it’s hard to be certain, Dr. Barwin was likely well informed and up to date with developments at the time. However, the extraordinary number of cases involving the administration of incorrect samples to patients, suggest that he lacked the basic skills required and expected, in the management of samples and records relating to them.

Regarding the insemination of patients with his own sperm, could lack of knowledge or skill have been to blame? Dr. Barwin suggested to two patients that his paternity must have occurred as a result of accidental contamination, resulting form [sic] his failure to clean an automated counting chamber that he tested using his own sperm (explanation give to •, •’s father…). He told • and her father • that “at the time I was testing a new automated sperm counter and used my own sample as a control” (email to Mr •, father of •).

Dr. Hughes considered Dr. Barwin’s explanation involving Dr. Barwin’s use of an automated sperm counter, which Dr. Barwin provided to Ms BB and Patient B’s husband as the reason for him being the biological father of Ms BB. Dr. Hughes outlined several reasons why Dr. Barwin’s explanation is implausible, and concluded that it could not have been the cause of all of the errors:

“Counting” sperm is a process that uses only a tiny aliquot of the whole semen sample and that aliquot is always subsequently discarded. It usually measures between 5070 microliters or approximately 3% of a 2.5ml ejaculate. The aliquot is taken from the whole sample with a clean, sterile, disposable plastic micropipette tip and placed on a microscope slide or into an automated counting chamber for evaluation. The micro-pipette tip used to draw up the aliquot is immediately discarded, once the 75 microliter droplet has been placed into the counting chamber. Once that evaluation is done, whether manually or automatically, that slide is also discarded. The micro-drop of semen assessed is never, ever, reintroduced into the sample being processed for insemination. Failure to clean the counting chamber might thus interfere with and confound the counting of the next sample to be evaluated, but would not introduce any of Dr. Barwin’s sperm into the patient’s insemination sample
For a single pregnancy to have occurred in these ways would have been remarkable. For eleven pregnancies to have been sired in this way, over two or more decades is neither statistically plausible nor believable
 
… Even if Dr. Barwin had continued to make the same error over and over again, because he was testing yet another ‘new automated sperm counter,’ the 11 pregnancies so far identified from his sperm would simply not have been
conceived, based on the above explanations and probabilities. The use of his own sperm thus appears to be unrelated to poor skill, knowledge or judgment.

Dr. Hughes opined on whether Dr. Barwin’s actions caused harm to patients:

… Dr. Barwin’s actions have resulted in significant pain and suffering that will extend forward through future generations, as offspring have their own children and grandchildren.

Whether Dr. Barwin’s actions were accidental or willful, the suffering he has caused remains deep and wide. Husbands and partners have been denied a genetic link to their offspring. Siblings now find that not only do they have an unknown man as their biological parent, they are not paternally related to each other. Mothers expecting their husbands’ sperm or those of a particular donor’s to be used, instead have conceived and birthed biologically unrelated children.

Offspring are living an avoidable genetic disconnection from their fathers and have no access to their genetic heritage. This clearly has and will continue to create stress, angst and pain among families. The children whom Dr. Barwin fathered himself are burdened in these and other even more profound ways. They know that their own DNA and that of their children and beyond, will always be linked to him and his actions.
 
It is thus clear that Dr. Barwin’s insemination practice leaves in its wake, deep, wide and extraordinary harm to the parents who in good faith and trust, sought his care and to their affected offspring. His patients trusted him.
….

The children whom Dr. Barwin’s patients bore, also attest to the pain he caused. The sample of interviews conducted by Ms. Jenereaux sheds some light on the scope of this harm, but many other voices have not informed this report. Some of those are seeking redress through a class action suit, but still other patients may be suffering in silence because fear or shame prevents them from coming forward. It is impossible to know who many of those cases exist, but it seems likely to me that patients who know about, but have been unable to face up to their circumstances, may actually be suffering more acutely and deeply than those who have come forward, because they have no options for support or redress.

Remember too, that many patients in a fertility practice fail to conceive. As many as half of the couples presenting for care may remain childless, because of advanced maternal age and other negative prognostic factors. Thus, for 51 children to have been born with incorrect sperm heritage, as many as 100 may have received the wrong sperm during their treatment. And for 11 babies to have been born as a result of Dr. Barwin inseminating women with his own sperm, others were very likely subjected to it, but failed to conceive. The point here is that we are seeing some of the scope of harm, but not all of it.

Dr. Hughes concluded:

Clearly, when delivering care to patients, accidental harm occasionally occurs, despite due diligence and adherence to the standard of care. The appropriate response to such accidental harm is to understand and learn from what has happened, take responsibility for any avoidable elements and make redress for those. Did Dr. Barwin adhere to these standards? With regard to the 51 babies conceived with the ‘wrong sperm,’ clearly not. Regarding the use of his own sperm, could Dr. Barwin have done this accidentally? With eleven offspring so far identified and an implausible explanation given to two of them, again I believe not.
Did Dr. Barwin’s practice fall below the standards of care for that time? Absolutely. 
Was his knowledge below standard? Uncertain. 
Were his skills below standard? Yes.
Was his judgment below standard? Yes.
Was harm done to patients? Yes. This is a tragic situation, in which a sea of avoidable harm was done.

Facts relevant to Penalty

Dr. Barwin’s History with the College

On February 15, 2012, Dr. Barwin entered into an undertaking with the College to voluntarily cease the practice of artificial insemination and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Dr. Barwin was the subject of a Discipline Committee hearing on January 31, 2013 regarding errors in his IUI practice. The hearing proceeded by way of an agreed statement of facts and admission. Dr. Barwin admitted that in two cases, he failed to use the donor sperm selected by the patients, and that in two other cases, unbeknownst to the patients, he failed to use the patients’ husbands’ sperm. The Committee ordered a two month suspension of his certificate of registration, a reprimand, and costs.

Following another complaint involving a child conceived with sperm that did not match the intended father, Dr. Barwin entered into an undertaking effective August 30, 2014, resigning his certificate of registration with the College.

Disposition
 
On June 25, 2019, the Discipline Committee ordered that:

- The Registrar revoke Dr. Barwin’s certificate of registration effectively immediately.
- Dr. Barwin attend before the panel to be reprimanded.
- Dr. Barwin pay costs to the College in the amount of $10,370.00 within 30 days of the date of this Order.


Decision: Download Full Decision (PDF)
Hearing Date(s): June 25, 2019

 

Committee: Discipline
Decision Date: 31 Jan 2013
Summary:

On January 31, 2013, the Disciplined Committee found that Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin committed an act of professional misconduct, in that he has failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession. Dr. Barwin admitted the allegation.

Dr. Barwin is a general practitioner with additional training in obstetrics and gynaecology. He has practised in Ontario in artificial insemination, among other areas of medicine since 1973.

Patient A became pregnant in 2004 as a result of artificial insemination conducted by Dr. Barwin. Approximately three years later, Patient A found out, through DNA testing, that her child was not the product of the donor sperm she had instructed Dr. Barwin to use to inseminate her.

In or about late 2006/early 2007, Patient B went to Dr. Barwin with her sister, Patient C, who had agreed to act as Patient B's surrogate. Dr. Barwin was to artificially inseminate Patient C with the sperm of Patient B's husband. Patient C discovered, through DNA testing in 2008, that her child was not the biological child of Patient B's husband.

In or about 1985 and 1986, Patient D went to Dr. Barwin for the purpose of being artificially inseminated with her husband's sperm. In approximately 2011, Patient D discovered, through DNA testing, that her son was not her husband's biological child.

The errors in the inseminations of Patients A and C occurred after Dr. Barwin had been notified by the College of an error he made in his insemination of another patient, Patient E, in 1994.

Patient E discovered, following the birth of her child in June, 1995, that the child was not the product of the donor sperm she had instructed Dr. Barwin to use to inseminate her. Dr. Barwin was notified of this error by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and states that he took some steps to endeavour to ensure that no such errors would occur in his practice in the future.

Dr. Barwin and an expert review were unable to identify any evident errors in the conduct of the artificial inseminations or in Dr. Barwin's office policies and procedures regarding his artificial insemination practice. However, Dr. Barwin accepts that errors in his practice, which would fall below the standard of care, resulted in his failure to provide his patients with offspring from their intended biological fathers. These concerns do not involve any other areas of Dr. Barwin's medical practice.

The Discipline Committee ordered and directed that:

the Registrar suspend Dr. Barwin's certificate of registration for a period of two (2) months commencing immediately.
Dr. Barwin attend before this panel to be reprimanded.
Dr. Barwin pay costs to the College in the amount of $3,650.00 within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order.


Decision: Download Full Decision (PDF)
Appeal: No Appeal
Hearing Date(s): January 31, 2013

Concerns

Source: Compliance and Monitoring Department
Active Date: August 30, 2014
Expiry Date:
Summary:
Dr. Barwin resigned from the College effective August 30, 2014 and has agreed never to apply or re-apply for registration as a physician in Ontario or any other jurisdiction.