What Should You Do?

Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. If you witness sexual abuse—in any form— you must stop what is happening and report it.

You overhear a PT colleague talking with her patient and it makes you uncomfortable. The comments directed at the patient are flirtatious and sexual in nature and it appears the PT is asking the patient out on a date.

This Year We Asked this Question:

“What would you do if you overhear a colleague talking with her patient and it makes you uncomfortable? The comments directed at the patient are flirtatious and sexual in nature and it appears the PT is asking the patient out on a date."

More than 50 per cent of PTs responded with option #2, Speak with the physiotherapist alone, telling him or her what you heard and that you feel this kind of conversation is crossing a professional boundary and needs to stop.

In reality, the Best Answer is OPTION #3: Interrupt the interaction, remind the PT of her obligations and contact the College to report what you heard.

Explanation

The difference between option 2 and option 3 is related to two things: who is being protected and what the law says. Speaking with your colleague alone, after the fact, is about protecting your colleague. Interrupting the interaction and contacting the College is about protecting the patient.

The Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) clearly states that “sexual abuse” of a patient by a member means:

(a) sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the member and the patient,

(b) touching, of a sexual nature, of the patient by the member, or

(c) behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by the member towards the patient. 1993, c. 37, s. 4.

Although you might not agree with this definition, it is the law. And, the PT in the scenario above broke that law.

Any PT who witnesses a similar incident and does not report it could be putting themselves in jeopardy. The law clearly states that anyone witnessing sexual abuse must report it, with a $25,000 fine for not doing so.
  

Learn more about making a mandatory report

Therapeutic Relationships and Professional Boundaries Standard

Contact the College with questions or concerns

Find out more about sexual abuse