If you are found guilty of professional misconduct due to a boundary violation, penalties can include: Engaging in sexual activity with a patient, making sexual remarks, touching a patient in a sexual way or engaging in sexual behaviour in front of a patient are all sexual misconduct, regardless of whether the patient consents.
While it has happened in all types of practices, chiropractors are particularly exposed as our care is "hands on."While being a member of my state licensing board, I unfortunately saw too many cases in which allegations were made against a chiropractor—some with merit and others without. The doctor/patient relationship is founded on trust and confidence and rules and regulations are generally promulgated to prevent a doctor from taking advantage of that trust.
Florida rules regarding sexual misconduct (which mimic many other jurisdictions) state that: "Any direct or indirect physical contact by any persons or between persons which is intended or which is likely to cause either person stimulation of a sexual nature" would be a violation.
He was reprimanded, and had conditions placed on his registration requiring ongoing psychiatric treatment and mentoring Interaction with patients which is not of a sexual nature can still be considered unprofessional.
What about inviting a patient to have a coffee or to go for drinks?
This can result in inadvertent encouragement of a patient’s feelings.
Be careful in your interactions with patients not to blur the boundaries and open the way for transference or misinterpretation.
But whatever the case, it is inappropriate and may put your license in jeopardy.
Just a few suggestions—as in all relationships, choose your words and actions carefully and always advise a patient of what you are going to do and why, prior to examination and treatment.
Boundary violations can have devastating consequences. Sexual misconduct can create a lot of public and media attention and this can have severe repercussions for your career, your working relationships and your family.
A medical practitioner’s reputation is often blemished and patients feel a loss of confidence, it may also be a trigger for other complaints from patients and former patients.
If you receive a complaint alleging sexual misconduct or breach of a boundary issue, do: Your first instinct may be to contact the patient to ‘sort things out’, but in most States it is an offence to attempt to persuade the complainant to discontinue the complaint or to take any reprisal action. Although he worked in a metropolitan practice, he was professionally isolated.