07 Oct 2020
The latest episode of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (Ahpra) Taking Care podcast is a conversation about sexual misconduct in the health professions.
This is a topic that is not often discussed and, although its occurrence is rare, can be very harmful to those who are affected by it.
Host Susan Biggar speaks to two guests who have extensive knowledge of this issue and the recent changes to how it is addressed by Ahpra and the National Boards. Professor Ron Paterson, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, conducted an independent review in 2017 of the use of chaperones by Ahpra and the National Boards to protect patients in the context of allegations of sexual misconduct or boundary violations. Christine Gee is CEO of Toowong Private Hospital in Queensland and Chair of the Sexual Boundaries Notifications Committee of the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and a member of the Queensland Board of the MBA.
During this episode, Professor Paterson highlights the damaging effects of sexual boundary violations in healthcare. There are issues of trust, power imbalance and objectivity: ‘We trust that when we’re asked to undergo an examination by a doctor or other health practitioner, that it’s being done for an appropriate reason.’ When it’s not appropriate, and patients are harmed, they ‘may then be too scared to go and seek further medical care,’ he said.
While sexual boundary notifications are made about less than 1% of the medical workforce in Australia each year, they are very serious and have significant effects on victims. Ms Gee speaks about the ‘permanent, tangible and long-lasting impact’ sexual boundary violations have on the individual, at the same time damaging public trust of medical and other health professionals.
What is a sexual boundary violation and how are notifications about these matters managed? How have things changed in recent times? What key findings came out of the 2017 chaperone review? To find out more, listen in to the latest podcast on sexual misconduct in the health professions.
Download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast episode today. Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.
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