The General Chiropractic Council has published learning from a recent fitness to practise case involving treating intimate areas.

In the case, a male chiropractor admitted to the PCC that he had requested the younger female patient remove her clothing to her underwear for the purposes of examination; that he treated the area near her vagina and groin with a vibrating tool; and that he treated the area around her breasts. After the appointment (which the patient had originally booked after a problem with her neck) the patient reflected on the treatment and eventually complained about the chiropractor to the GCC.

The Professional Conduct Committee did not find unprofessional conduct in the actions and conduct of the chiropractor – the diagnosis and treatment were both found to be clinically justified.

UK Fitness to Practise News

Learning from this case

Writing on its website, the GCC said:

The learning from this case is that the complaint to the GCC may have been avoided if the chiropractor had been more alert to the need to ensure he communicated effectively so that the patient was clear as to why the intimate areas were being treated and, on that basis, given informed consent. 

Patients often feel vulnerable before, during and after treatment; and this effect is magnified when the patient is unclothed, new to chiropractic treatment or the work of a particular chiropractor, or they are being treated in an intimate area.

Chiropractors can reduce this feeling of vulnerability by offering a chaperone and gown (and recording a note of the patient’s response) as well as taking the time to ensure you have fully explained the procedure to them and obtained informed consent.

Standard D4 of the GCC Code states registrants must “Consider the need, during assessments and care, for another person to be present to act as a chaperone; particularly if the assessment or care might be considered intimate or where the patient is a child or a vulnerable adult.”

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