I recently Chiropractor dating a patient on the topic of sexual misconduct in the ornate grand ballroom of the former Playboy Towers at the annual meeting of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards in Chicago. Linda Steele Denham was the gracious emcee for the mixed crowd of about 75, and before Dr. Denham introduced me she said, Before we start, I have a joke I want to tell.
Have you heard about those Wonder Bras? It uplifts the downtrodden. As I took the podium, I informed the audience that they were the victims of a set-up. Linda told me ly she had considered telling that joke during the introduction, but had second thoughts when she became aware of the subject matter of my discussion. I encouraged Linda to tell the joke anyway, since I felt it could well illustrate a basic premise of the sexual boundary subject.
Some participants may have found that joke funny; some may have been a bit put off or even offended by it. There were approximately 75 people in that room who all witnessed the same event. The doctor has to consider this in the context of providing services in their offices.
These patients are constantly aware of the physical presentation of the doctor, and their minds Chiropractor dating a patient continually evaluating what the doctor says, the mannerisms of the doctor, and the way the doctor touches and handles them. Consider the following statement of the Hippocratic Oath from more than 2, years ago:. Whatever house I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick and remain free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief, and in particular of sexual relationships with both female and male persons; be they free or be they slaves. While I find slavery abhorrent, it is interesting to note that even 2, years ago, professional boundaries were considered applicable to all classes of people regardless of their social standing when providing for their health care needs.
Before we can determine whether or not there is violation of a boundary we first have to define what a boundary is. Pamela Staples, a clinical psychologist in Minnesota provided a succinct definition of a boundary. If we were to Chiropractor dating a patient a boundary using a biological analogy, we could characterize it as being much like a cell wall that allows selective entry and exit; a semi-permeable membrane that carefully and selectively allows some things in, while keeping others out.
These boundaries are different for each person largely because of their life experience. Typically boundaries are dynamic and adaptable, and can often be renegotiated as the relationship changes and progresses over time. This is fine as long as these boundaries are never renegotiated to the point of violation.
Romantic or sexual relationships with patients
We all have hormones and are subject to a normal physiological process intended for the propagation of the species. The issue is not whether or not the doctor experiences or feels a sexual attraction to a patient.
The issue is how the doctor behaves relative to the experience. Recently, some other statistics have arisen as a result of more research into the subject matter.
Of all these types of violations, it was found that the most obsessive behavior typically occurs between a female patient and a female doctor. Sexual boundary transgressions are not always clearly black or white. For all intents and purposes, they exist on a continuum from mild to severe, and the doctor may have difficulty in making the distinction between appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior.
Each person may have a different set of responses to different situations. For example, some people may judge a relationship between a doctor and a patient as Chiropractor dating a patient if it ultimately resulted in a legitimate relationship or perhaps even a marriage. Additionally you will find varying opinions as to whether or not a doctor should treat a member of their own family; resulting in engaging in what should be a true doctor-patient relationship as well as their familial relationship.
I point these two examples out to show that there are situations that illustrate a gray area in our thinking and in societal standard.
However, in the more traditional sense, sexual relationships between physicians and patients are almost always damaging to the patient. Damage includes, but is not limited to sexual dysfunction, anxiety disorders, depression, increased risk of suicide and dissociative behavior—where patients tend to regress from society, friends, family and even themselves. I shudder to think of the emotional impact of a patient committing suicide because a doctor engaged in a personal relationship with a patient that ultimately failed? Yet, according to this report, there are several citations of this happening.
This continuum of conduct can be viewed in the context of boundary crossovers. However, it is probably prudent here, to attempt some definition of these terms. There is Chiropractor dating a patient gray area of clinical decisions where the best course of action is not readily apparent.
A decision to deviate from an established boundary, a Boundary crossing may enhance the therapeutic alliance, especially if properly examined within therapy. Frick gives examples of boundary crossings as appointment changes, extension of payments, small gifts to the therapist, or requests from the client for disclosure of bits of personal information by the therapist. Frick Boundary crossings may be trivial. The danger may arise if there is an increase in the frequency and severity of crossings. Simon, Boundary crossings can be distinguished from Boundary violations.
Boundary violations are characterized by a reversal of roles, secrecy, the creation of a double bind for the client and the indulgence of personal privilege by the professional. Peterson, Often, the first step down that slippery slope is excessive personal disclosure by the professional.
Schoener, The professional may fantasize that love, in and of itself, will be curative. Gabbard, A professional boundary violation is a disruption of the expected social, physical and psychological boundaries that separate doctors from patients. Some of the violations may be very subtle—so subtle that the patient is not aware of them, and in fact the doctor may not even be aware of them. Others are, of course, quite severe. Sexual misconduct by professionals.
The most Chiropractor dating a patient types of sexual misconduct involve actual sexual contact, intercourse, and rape. It could be the action of an overt predator, or it could be the action of a more cunning predator who carefully manipulates over time to seduce. It could be the lovesick, one time offender who yields to temptation. In a very general sense, boundary violations can be divided into two majoreach with their own respective etiology, and each with a different likelihood of successful resolution. These are predatory and non-predatory.
Non-predatory violations are violations that are typically not related to intent. It is believed that these doctors are more capable of being rehabilitated with education and some sort of rehabilitative therapy. This should be distinguished from a predatory practitioner.
Predatory practitioners generally engage in violations which are related to intent. The doctor has the clear intention of actively pursuing some type of relationship with this particular patient or pursuing some form of relationship which in sexual gratification for the doctor.
The prognosis for the true predator is said to be extremely poor. This belief is consistent with not only the research performed by the MBMP, but other agencies across the country. We typically find that these people are incapable or rarely capable of being educated to the point of being able to function in a manner safe for the patient. Handle any problems to mutual satisfaction immediately!
Handle any boundary infringements the same way. Address them directly with the patient.
25 steps to navigate the slippery slope of sexual boundaries
Tell the patient what you are going to do and what you expect of them b. Invite the patient to have a third party present, particularly during certain sensitive procedures. Record immediately, any issues that have come up between you and patients. If a patient flirts, sends cards or gifts, etc. You may also consider keeping such material, should you later need to defend yourself against a complaint.
Regarding the performance of procedures.
Regarding office procedures. Regarding financial obligations. Regarding relationships with third party payors e. Provide reports on time. Properly file and manage patient records. Forward requested records in a timely manner.
Handle disgruntled patient concerns immediately. Include fees, hours, boundary issues, etc. Have patients ; keep one in chart and give one to patient. Is this procedure necessary? Am I the right person to do this? Should someone else be in the room? Would I do this if this patient were not attractive to me?
Code of ethics
Has the patient been given a proper explanation? Has the patient been given adequate opportunity and the proper atmosphere in which to decline?
Leave your personal agenda on the other side of the door. Do not sexualize the relationship, even if your patient expects or demands that you do. Ask female staff and patients about your behavior. An anonymous questionnaire can be verym effective for accomplishing this. Get help from a supervisor, colleague, or other professional if you find yourself attracted to a patient. Believing you can handle it by yourself may be the costliest mistake you ever make. Just discussing it with another professional tends to diffuse the situation right away.