We have often asked whether the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is fit for purpose. A recent case bought before the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the GCC provides further food for thought.
The male chiropractor in question admitted to the PCC that:
- he had requested the younger female patient remove her clothing to her underwear for the purposes of examination;
- he then treated the area near her vagina and groin with a vibrating tool;
- that he also treated the area around her breasts.
After the appointment, which the patient had originally booked for a problem with her neck, the patient reflected on the treatment and eventually complained about the chiropractor to the GCC. The PCC considered the case and did not find unprofessional conduct in the actions and conduct of the chiropractor. His the diagnosis and treatment were both found to be clinically justified.
According to the GCC, the lesson 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.”
I find this unbelievably gross and grossly unbelievable!
It begs, I think, the following questions:
- What condition requires treatment with a ‘vibrating tool’ near the vagina (I assume they mean vulva)?
- What condition requires treatment with a ‘vibrating tool’ around the breasts?
- Is there any reliable evidence?
- Was informed consent obtained?
- What precisely did it entail?
About 15 years ago, I was an expert witness in a very similar UK case. The defendant was sent to prison for two years. The GCC is really not fit for purpose. It seems to consistently defend chiropractors rather than do its duty and defend their patients.
My advice to the above-mentioned patient is not to bother with the evidently useless GCC but to initiale criminal proceedings.