Thursday, August 5, 2010

Health Practitioners Treating Spouses Beware!

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal case should be noted by all health professionals as a potential cause for concern. Leering v. College of Chiropractors of Ontario
[2010] O.J. No. 406 seems to indicate that a health professional treating their spouse, as a patient, is automatically in violation of section 51(1)(b.1) of the Health Professions Procedural Code! While there must be a patient/health professional relationship established, as opposed to mere “episodic” care (ie) a doctor and her husband are in an accident and she gives him emergency treatment, this along with a sexual relationship is all that is needed in order to be in violation of the Code. If you are a dentist and you see your spouse in your office every 6 months for a checkup, she is likely a “patient”. If your spouse later complains to the RCDS, you could have the same trouble as Leering.

Osgoode Hall Law School’s website “The Court” has a good article on this case and a few other related cases, for those of you who may be interested in more information at Sometimes legislation gets written, usually with the best of intentions, but the language is poor and so the courts are then faced with having to follow that language, even when the result seems a bit extreme. Hopefully the various lobbying bodies for the professions will jump on this and attempt to have the legislation amended so that the mere fact that someone treats their spouse is not, in and of itself, “sexual abuse” and professional misconduct. Certainly we all want to ensure that patients are protected from abuses of power by medical professionals. But speaking as the spouse of a dentist, I see absolutely no reason why I should not have the best dentist I know treat me, just because I happen to also be married to the guy!

No comments: