Professional Boundaries and Sexual Abuse

An optician is not allowed to engage in any sexual act with a patient, and may not make comments of a sexual nature or behave in a sexual way toward a patient.

Opticians are responsible for preventing sexual abuse and maintaining proper professional boundaries at all times. Please review the information below, as well as the Sexual Abuse Prevention Guidelines developed by the College for registrants.  

What is sexual abuse?

“Sexual abuse” has a different meaning for health professionals than it does in the criminal context. Under the legislation sexual abuse of a patient occurs whenever a health professional:

  • Has physical sexual relations with a patients
  • Touches a patient in a sexual manner
  • Behaves in a sexual way toward a patient (e.g. kissing or hugging in a sexual way)
  • Makes sexual remarks toward a patient  (e.g. sexually suggestive comments or jokes)

What makes someone a “patient”?

The definition of “patient” is not exhaustive, but includes at a minimum anyone, including a spouse or intimate partner, that the regulated health professional has a direct interaction with and where any of the following conditions are met:

  • The regulated health professional provides a health care service to the individual and charges or receives payment for that service, whether directly or through a third party
  • The regulated health professional contributes to the individual’s health record or file
  • The individual consents to a health care service recommended by the regulated health professional
  • The regulated health professional prescribes a drug for which a prescription is needed to the individual

Despite the foregoing, however, an individual will not be considered a patient where all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • There is, at the time the health care service was provided, a sexual relationship between the regulated health professional and the individual;
  • The regulated health professional provided the health care service to the individual in emergency circumstances, or the service was minor in nature; and
  • The regulated health professional took reasonable steps to transfer care to another regulated health professional, where such opportunity existed.

How long does a person remain a “patient”?

Under the legislation, a person remains a “patient” for one year after the optician/patient relationship is terminated. As a result, an optician is not allowed to engage in any sexual interactions with someone who was his or her patient until a full year has passed since that professional relationship ended.

Reporting Sexual Abuse

Opticians have a legal obligation to report the sexual abuse of a patient by another optician or any other regulated health professional. For more information about the mandatory reporting of sexual abuse click here.

 


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