Protecting Patients from Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Course

Bill 21: An Act to Protect Patients received Royal Assent on November 18, 2018, and introduced significant amendments to the Health Professions Act (HPA), providing specific guidance and requirements to regulated health professions for preventing and addressing sexual abuse and/or sexual misconduct towards patients by regulated members. These amendments, along with the College’s Standards of Practice (see Standard Area 5.0) and Code of Ethics, provide specific direction to regulated members for professional conduct and establishing and maintaining professional boundaries with patients.

The Alberta Federation of Regulated Health Professions (AFRHP) is a group of 29 health regulatory Colleges that work together to fulfill the same mandate – “to regulate our respective professions in the public interest.” The AFRHP has launched a new educational course to help regulated health professionals understand and comply with Bill 21.

The course is broken down into three modules:

Module 1: Introduction to An Act to Protect Patients
This module will help familiarize you with Alberta’s legislation to address sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.

Module 2: Preventing Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct
This module focuses on maintaining the patient-professional relationship by providing tips on recognizing risk factors, obtaining consent, non-verbal communication, physical contact and exposure, record keeping, and avoiding crossing boundaries.

Module 3: When Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct has Occurred
This interactive module discusses reporting requirements, which include reporting that is mandatory: employer, self and reporting other members. The complaint process and types of penalties are also reviewed.

The Continuing Competence Committee considers this learning essential for members and has determined this course and its quizzes may be counted for up to 4 hours per CCP cycle. At the end of the course, you may print/upload the resulting certificate as part of your records. This government-funded course replaces the interim step the College had taken through the learning module that you have seen on our website so far.

Standards of Practice: Standard Area 5.0

STANDARD AREA 5.0: PROTECTION OF PATIENTS FROM SEXUAL ABUSE AND SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Standard

A regulated member of the Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists ensures that they will not enter into a relationship of a sexual nature with their patient and will take measures to prevent sexual abuse and sexual misconduct.

For the purposes of this standard:

  1. ‘Patient’ shall mean a person who has received medical diagnostic and/or therapeutic services administered by a regulated member of the College within the immediately preceding year except in the cases of an episodic care. A person receiving episodic care is considered a patient while they receive episodic care; however, they cease to be considered a patient upon its conclusion.
  2. A spouse, adult interdependent partner or person with whom there is an existing personal and/or sexual relationship is not a patient.

Indicators

To demonstrate this Standard, a regulated member will:

  1. Maintain and manage professional boundaries with patients at all times.
  2. Refrain from providing professional diagnostic and/or therapeutic services to their current or ongoing spouse, current or ongoing adult interdependent relationship partner or any other individual with whom they have a current or ongoing personal and/or sexual relationship, unless there is an emergent situation in which the regulated member is the most competent healthcare professional present to perform the required duties and/or the patient is restricted by geography, or other factors, that prevent them from receiving services from an alternate authorized healthcare professional. In addition, a regulated member providing professional diagnostic and/or therapeutic services in these circumstances is expected to take reasonable steps to transfer the individual’s care to another authorized healthcare professional as soon as reasonably possible.
  3. Explain to the patient the need for removing clothing or other items that may interfere with diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.
  4. Ensure informed consent is obtained when required to touch the patient for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes.
  5. Provide the opportunity, where appropriate, of having a third party in attendance for procedures.
  6. Take measures to perform procedures in a manner that maintains the patient’s dignity (e.g., providing gowns, appropriate draping, private space).
  7. Report any sexual abuse and/or sexual misconduct to the appropriate authority (e.g., duty to report, self-report).
  8. Comply with the College’s Code of Ethics.

Expected Outcomes

Patients, family/representatives, the public and employers can expect that regulated members will not engage in, and will take appropriate measures to prevent, sexual abuse and/or sexual misconduct.

Related Standards

  • 1.1 Patient-Centred Care
  • 2.1 Legislation, Standards and Ethics
  • 2.4 Professional Boundaries
  • 2.6 Communication

The AFRHP has also created a comprehensive module, Trauma Informed Training for Regulatory Organizations, that provides organizations like ours tools for taking a trauma-informed approach when dealing with complaints of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct against a regulated health professional. The College has made this training mandatory for all current and future members of the Council, staff, the complaints director, investigators, the hearings director, the hearings tribunal and any other individual/body with regulatory responsibilities.

Scroll to top