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Doctor who charged patient for 'alternative' Parkinson's treatment found guilty of unprofessional conduct

A doctor uses a tablet in a stock photo. (Getty Images) A doctor uses a tablet in a stock photo. (Getty Images)

A Calgary doctor has been found guilty of three counts of unprofessional conduct stemming from a fruitless four-year-long treatment of a woman's case of atypical Parkinsonism that her family says cost them close to $400,000.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) announced Wednesday that Dr. Bruce Hoffman, of Calgary's Hoffman Clinic, was found guilty of three counts of unprofessional conduct in relation to a female patient who came into his care in 2014.

The woman, who is unnamed, died in 2019.

The CPSA said the woman was diagnosed with atypical Parkinsonism, a disorder that meant neurologists agreed she had symptoms, but did not appear "like an average Parkinson's patient."

"Not content with only the diagnosis of a fatal disease, the patient began searching for alternative treatment possibilities and, in the fall of 2014, she and her husband made an appointment with Dr. Hoffman," the CPSA wrote in its decision, which was based on the testimony of the patient's husband.

At the appointment, the patient's husband said Hoffman gave them the idea "that recovery or certainly remission was very possible" and "was something he knew how to accomplish."

"But you can think of what was going through [the patient's] mind: I will not see my son grow up. I will not see my son get married. I will not see my own grandchildren. I will not grow old with my husband."

The tribunal says Hoffman was taking advantage of the patient's hope for profit.

The initial interview and testing cost $8,000, the CPSA document reads, but it turned out that they were charged $8,000 every few months for follow-ups, which included testing that needed to be done in Europe and the U.S.

In addition to the tests, CPSA heard that Hoffman convinced the couple that the condition was caused by mold, so had instructed them to sell their 100-year-old home and move, leaving behind all of their belongings that could not "be made completely free of mold."

"The move was an expensive process for them," the CPSA said.

"The patient's husband testified that it took them a year to clear everything up, sell their house, and move to rental accommodation that seemed to be a safe place for the patient to live."

The husband stated to the tribunal that they paid the Hoffman Clinic over $186,000 but also spend about the same amount for specialized tests and supplements.

"He believed the total cost amounted close to $400,000."

As time went on, the patient's husband told the CPSA "he worried" about the endless testing and costs but was "devoted to the patient" and supported her continuing the treatment with Hoffman.

However, the husband eventually 'agreed to disagree' over his own involvement at the clinic and no longer went with her to appointments.


Among the offences leveled against Hoffman from the CPSA was an allegation that he charged the patient fees for visits while also charging the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan for those same visits.

The patient's husband said "they were told nothing in the clinic was paid for by the public health care system."

"He said, '…the idea that he was billing Alberta Health was a total shock to me … (the patient) never knew that and I didn't know until some time after she had passed away."

During cross-examination, Hoffman admitted to the tribunal that there were times where he would have billed Alberta Health for services while charging the patient for the same service.

"It's very difficult to follow the separation," he told the CPSA. "Because at all times I'm integrating my traditional medical training with my functional medicine. I'm crossing them all the time.

"You know, I will deal with diet as I'll deal with thyroid hormones. I'll be doing all of the same in the same visit, and which sometimes is not clearly delineated.

"And to draw a line in the sand and say this is this and this is that, I am always integrating."


Of the six allegations made against Hoffman, the CPSA found him guilty on three counts, including providing laboratory testing for the patient "at significant cost" in contrary to the College's standard of practice.

"Patients are often vulnerable and will pay for products which they believe will assist them in diagnosis or recovering from serious illnesses; the Standard ensures that – regardless of a patient’s willingness to pay unreasonable costs – they are protected from such a practice," the CPSA wrote.

"The relevant finding is that the mark-up imposed by Dr. Hoffman were not reasonable handling costs but was rather an attempt to generate revenue to be applied against general operating and variable expenses."

Hoffman was also found guilty of charging the patient for services while also billing Alberta Health for the same procedures as well as failing to create "a contemporaneous record of assessment and treatment provided" on several occasions.

"This is not a one-off occurrence where an error was made but reflects a practice by Dr. Hoffman to bill the patient for his time while also receiving compensation from the public health care system for that same time," the tribunal said.

"It is a serious matter and the hearing tribunal finds that the proven breaches amount to unprofessional conduct."

The tribunal will meet at a later date to consider submissions on sanctions.

CTV News has reached out to the Calgary Police Service and Alberta Health about any independent investigations into Hoffman's conduct. Top Stories

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