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The Snowball Effect

Feb 20, 2018

The Situation

In the spring of 2015, CB, a PT, used her professional privilege to access patient records including material outside the scope of physiotherapy. This sensitive information (among it, mental health data) pertained to four patients—all of whom were not in her care at the time. 
CB viewed these documents without consent, and not for the purposes of physiotherapy. She commenced a sexual relationship with a patient, including intercourse. During this relationship and after its conclusion, she also provided physiotherapy care to him. Although the patient did not consider himself a victim, nor wish to pursue legal action, a health care provider entering into a sexual relationship with a patient is sexual abuse—no exceptions.

In fact, it was not the sexual abuse that initially got CB in trouble. Once her employer became aware that she had been accessing patient records without authorization, the employer filed a mandatory report with the College. It was through the College’s investigation into her privacy breach that the revelation of her engaging in a sexual relationship with her patient came to light.

The Standard

All health care professionals in Ontario should be aware that a sexual relationship with a patient is sexual abuse and will result in mandatory revocation of their license.

This physiotherapist failed to maintain the standards of practice of the profession with respect to confidentiality of patient records, consent, and professional boundaries as set out in the Essential Competencies, and the College's Record Keeping, Boundaries and Sexual Abuse, and Conflict of Interest Standards.
She also violated a federal, provincial and territorial law relevant to her suitability to practice, and in particular the Personal Health Information Protection Act 2004, S.D. 2004,c.3.

The Penalty

CB appeared before the Discipline Committee to be reprimanded, and the Registrar revoked her license effective August 24, 2017. 

She paid $1,000 in costs to the College. Her cooperation with the College throughout the proceedings was treated as a factor for this amount.

CB used her professional status to access information she had no right to, leading to the sexual abuse of her patient. The Committee would have issued a serious penalty for the breach of confidentiality alone, but the Health Professions Procedural Code also requires that registration be revoked—with no opportunity to reapply for five years. The Committee strongly supports this added penalty.

Read the case on CanLII

Leave a comment
  1. Donna Arsenault | Feb 26, 2018
    It seems like the PT was not aware of all the implications of having an affair with patient could lead to this and did cooperate with the investigation and client did not want to pursue legal action They just may have learned a hard lesson 
  2. Helen B | Feb 21, 2018
    This person is a disgrace to our Profession, I sincerely hope they are not re-instated after 5 years.

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