Toronto doctor loses medical license for having sex with 'emotionally exposed' cancer patient in hospital bed
37-year-old Theepa Sundaralingam lost her license for the affair and was also ordered to pay a further $16,000 to cover patient therapy costs.
A Toronto doctor who began sexually abusing her male patient after she diagnosed him with cancer has been found guilty of the offenses by a disciplinary panel and was stripped of her medical license.
According to The Star, 37-year-old Theepa Sundaralingam, an oncologist, had sexual intercourse with the patient, identified in court documents only as Patient A due to a publication ban, multiple times on his hospital bed, even following him to a different medical facility when he left the hospital at which she worked and treated him.
Sundaralingam pleaded no contest to her charges in front of the disciplinary committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario — meaning she did not admit to guilt but consented to the panel accepting the allegations as fact.
As per Ontario law which dictates punishment for doctors found guilty of having sex with their patients, she lost her medical license. She was also ordered to post credit for $16,000 to cover patient therapy costs and also an additional $6,000 to cover the costs of the disciplinary hearing.
The Star reports that the 37-year-old's tryst with the patient began in 2015 when she diagnosed him with cancer. Just one day later, she shared her personal phone number and Instagram handle with the patient. The pair then began exchanging flirtatious texts which then evolved into hugging and kissing and phone sex, and then, eventually, to Sundaralingam masturbating and having sex with the patient in the hospital bed.
The contents of some of those texts were revealed to the panel, including one where she asks him if he had "ever been to a porn and cheese party" before then immediately texting, "Oh wait, I don't think that's a normal activity. My bad."
She goes on to explain that a "porn and cheese party" was one where all the guests bring a cheese and a porn clip which are somehow related to one another and that everyone at the party then watches the clips together. The person with the best porn and cheese combination wins, she said, adding she "may have been to one."
The panel also heard of how Sundaralingam visited the patient numerous times at his home, where he lived with his family and would spend hours with him in the bedroom engaging in sexual activities.
She was so infatuated with Patient A, that she would even visit him at a different hospital where he was receiving cancer treatment. A statement says she once arrived at the hospital after she had been drinking, and that the pair engaged in "mutual sexual touching."
Because she was scared their relationship would result in her losing her licence, she instructed him to delete their texts and even scratch her name out of the visitor's log at the hospital to erase evidence she had ever visited him.
But their fling came to an end later in 2015, when after having sex with him, Sundaralingam revealed she was in love with another colleague and was having an affair. By the end of the year, she was refusing to see him.
In a victim impact statement, patient A said it had been a "traumatic experience" and that "it's difficult for me to talk to anybody about it because the reality is that I’m a male... so for me to say, 'Hey, I dated my oncologist,' it wouldn’t be a surprise for someone to say Cool.' But that’s not cool."
He continued, "That’s not the case because I feel abused, and it’s very difficult as a male to come out and say that about a female. It’s usually the other way around. 'I was physically emaciated and emotionally exposed and the loss of a critical relationship defeated me. What compounded this toll was her refusal to continue providing medical care at the same time. At the time, I was unable to see the ramifications of dating my treating oncologist. I couldn't see how vulnerable I was and how much power she had over me."
Revoking her license, panel chair John Langs said, "From virtually the beginning of your doctor/patient relationship, you crossed boundaries and ultimately sexually abused an extremely vulnerable patient suffering from a life-threatening illness. The committee can only hope that this process prompts you to undergo a long, hard searching self-examination of what lies behind your abusive and abhorrent behavior."
A statement from the panel to the 37-year-old similarly read, "You were responsible for your patient’s health, care and support, but instead you took advantage for your own personal satisfaction. You then withdrew that support for your own personal preference at a time when your patient was at his lowest point. You have disgraced yourself and the profession."