The General Chiropractic Council said a recent case illustrates the importance of awareness of EDI issues when having sensitive conversations with patients.

Background to the case.

In August 2023 the patient mentioned during treatment that they were visiting a close relative who is Transgender. In response, the registrant shared personal views and asked inappropriate questions about that relative.

The conversation happened during treatment in an open plan treatment room where other patients could overhear, and the patient found the conversation “deeply inappropriate, hurtful, shocking and ignorant”.

They complained to the registrant, who attempted to justify the comments by way of a video apology. The patient then made a formal complaint to the GCC.

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Investigating Committee Finding

The IC found that the conversation was capable of being regarded by the PCC as insensitive and inappropriate, particularly as they took place with another patient present. They also noted that the apology was undermined by the registrant’s attempt to justify their views.

Nevertheless, the IC considered that, as an isolated incident of poor communication, the conversation would be unlikely to be regarded by the PCC as such a serious departure from professional standards as to meet the threshold for unacceptable professional conduct.

The IC found there was no case to answer, however they exercised their right to issue advice to the registrant.

The advice offered by the IC

The IC asked the registrant to reflect further on their future communication with patients, particularly about sensitive topics, and particularly in situations where patients may feel vulnerable because they are in the middle of treatment and other people are present.

The IC suggested that the registrant consider undertaking further research or training in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion to avoid any recurrence of communication issues of this type in their future practice.

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