Case Vignette – October 2021

Case Vignette – October 2021

Sexual Boundary Violations

I know, this is a very unusual topic for an Orthopaedic Surgeon to be exploring.

The Notifications Committees of the Medical Board of Australia not infrequently deal with complaints of inappropriate behaviour on the part of medical practitioners with patients.  It appears that female patients are the most vulnerable and male practitioners are the most likely to offend.  The severity and the frequency of the boundary violations vary, but all are totally unacceptable.

The Boards typically refer these cases to the Civil Administrative Tribunals in their respective States.  Respondents are dealt with according to the level of the breach and actions can include reprimands, suspensions or even cancellation of registrations, temporarily or indefinitely.

Not only do the types of boundary violation cover a relatively broad spectrum, there is an added element of the potential for recidivism.  There are some practitioners who have been dealt with on several occasions for the same violations and have been the subjects of suspensions and conditions.  One common condition is to never examine a female patient (if that is the appropriate sex) in the absence of a chaperone.

It may come as a surprise to you (as it did to me) that there are still some practitioners who, despite repeated warnings, fail to adhere to the conditions mandated by the Tribunal and set in place to protect our society.

I suppose every profession has them.