Fitness to Practise learnings: Chaperones
Registrant guidance on the importance of ensuring a chaperone is offered to patients when undertaking intimate procedures.
In the recent case, when considering sanction, the Professional Conduct Committee had regarded an aggravating factor in that the patient was a young woman at the time of the event. This factor had created a serious age imbalance between the registrant and the patient, which the registrant should have recognised, bearing in mind the extent of their professional experience.
The PCC considered that the registrant should have recognised this imbalance, particularly because of the intimate procedure they intended to carry out, and have taken steps to ensure that a chaperone was offered.
As outlined in D4 of the GCC Code, registrants must “Consider the need, during assessments and care, for another person to be present to act as a chaperone; particularly if the assessment or care might be considered intimate or where the patient is a child or a vulnerable adult.”
Registrants are also reminded that it is their responsibility to be aware of the potential for an imbalance of power between themselves and their patients. Registrants occupy a position of trust with their patients.
Although this may not be explicit, an imbalance of power is a feature of the chiropractor/patient relationship. Patients often are or feel vulnerable when they require care as chiropractors are in a position of power as they have access to the knowledge and any resources that the patient may need.
Visit the Registrant Resource Centre for GCC guidance on maintaining sexual boundaries.