Patient relations program

A health care professional is in a position of power over a patient, by virtue of having professional knowledge and skill that a patient must rely on for their well-being. In addition, they have access to patients’ personal health information.

Health care professionals must always maintain professional boundaries with their patients. They are prohibited from engaging in any form of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct as defined by law in the Health Professions Act with a patient.

Do you think a health care professional may have violated a boundary or otherwise engaged in sexual misconduct or abuse?

Did a health care professional do something to make you feel uncomfortable? Maybe he or she touched you in a way that was not medically necessary or appropriate or perhaps he or she said something sexually suggestive. If this is the case, please contact the appropriate Alberta college to discuss your concerns.

We recognize that coming forward with a complaint about sexual abuse or misconduct can be very difficult. If you believe your chiropractor may have crossed a sexual boundary, we urge you to contact us at 587.442.4408 or [email protected].

Complaints of a sexual nature may involve:

Privacy and respect: This could include a health-care professional not providing enough privacy while putting on a gown or getting dressed after an examination.

Inappropriate comments or gestures: This could include saying something sexually suggestive or seductive to you, commenting unnecessarily about sexual relationships or sexual orientation, making sexually insulting or offensive comments or jokes, or giving unwanted attention (like kissing).

Unnecessary or improper physical examinations: This could mean more frequent breast, genital or pelvic examinations than would be considered medically necessary, touching without your permission or explanation, or conducting a physical examination in a sexual rather than a medical way.

Sexual contact or assault: This encompasses everything from inappropriate touching to sexual assault. It also includes any sexual contact between a health care professional and patient that would otherwise be considered consensual.

Sexual Abuse is defined in the Health Professions Act as:

"The threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a regulated member towards a patient that is of a sexual nature and includes any of the following conduct:

  1. Sexual intercourse between a regulated member and a patient of that regulated member;
  2. Genital to genital, genital to anal, oral to genital or oral to anal contact between a regulated member and a patient of that regulated member;
  3. Masturbation of a regulated member by, or in the presence of, a patient of that regulated member;
  4. Masturbation of a regulated member’s patient by that regulated member;
  5. Encouraging a regulated member’s patient to masturbate in the presence of that regulated member;
  6. Touching of a sexual nature of a client’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks by a regulated member.”

Sexual Misconduct as defined in the Health Professions Act as:

“Any incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by a regulated member towards a patient that the regulated member knows or ought reasonably to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to the patient or adversely affect the patient’s health and well-being but does not include sexual abuse.”

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Who to contact

If you think you have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of an Alberta regulated health care professional, we urge you to contact the appropriate Alberta college or association.

If you are concerned that a chiropractor may have been sexually inappropriate, please contact our Complaints Director at 587.442.4408 or [email protected].

Additional resources

If you would like additional support or information about sexual assault, there are several sexual assault services located across the province that provide specialized and distinct core sexual assault services to individuals, families and communities.

  • The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services
  • The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton
  • The Calgary Sexual Assault Response Team

  • For services in other Provinces and Territories in Canada, please visit the Ending Violence Association of Canada.