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This consultation ended May 27, 2016

Invitation to Comment on Proposed Amendments to
Patient Relations Bylaw

Posted February 25, 2016

This has been a hot issue for registrants and we have been working behind the scenes with government and other health regulators to address it. I am pleased to announce that at our February meeting, the Board approved a motion to remove spousal treatment from the sexual misconduct provisions of the CDSBC Bylaws.”

- Dr. David L. Tobias, CDSBC President

The Board is seeking to amend CDSBC's patient relations bylaw so that spousal treatment would not be included in the definition of "professional misconduct of a sexual nature."

The proposed wording to be added to Bylaw Part 13.03 (Patient relations program) reads:

13.03 (5) It is not professional misconduct of a sexual nature to provide dental
services to one's spouse; rather, that is a matter of professional ethics

(a) patient autonomy
(b) free, full and informed consent by the patient; and
(c) objectivity of care on the part of the practitioner.


The introduction of the Health Professions Act and the CDSBC Bylaws in 2009 defined any sexual relations with a patient as professional misconduct of a sexual nature. The Ministry of Health recently shifted its thinking and has advised all health regulators that the government will not impose the specific contents of a patient relations program. The Ministry expects health regulators to deal with this as an ethical issue.

The proposed amendment to the Patient Relations Bylaw was posted for a three-month consultation period that ended on May 27, 2016.

Will the amendment mean that dentists can treat spouses?

Practitioners must continue to use their professional judgment in determining whether treatment is appropriate on a case-by-case basis and in consideration of the ethical factors set out in the new guideline document Boundaries in the Practitioner-Patient Relationship. The College has defined this as an ethical issue and is providing guidance to registrants in the Boundaries guideline. For this reason, it would be inappropriate for the College to make a statement one way or the other.

If approved, the amendment to the Patient Relations Bylaw would mean the simple fact that a dentist has treated their spouse will no longer constitute professional misconduct of a sexual nature. If a complaint were received, it would be analyzed by the Inquiry Committee as a question of ethics, patient autonomy, and informed consent, as discussed in the Boundaries guideline.

We understand that many registrants feel strongly about the issue of treating spouses. It is important to keep in mind that in the seven years since the College has been under the Health Professions Act and CDSBC Bylaws, we have not received a single complaint about this.

How to submit feedback

Feedback was to be received no later than May 27th, 2016 and can be submitted to:

Ministry of Health

College of Dental Surgeons of BC

By email / online

Attention: Executive Director, Professional Regulation & Oversight Branch

​By email

Include "Patient Relations Bylaw" in the subject line

By mail

Ministry of Health, Health Sector
Workforce Division
1515 Blanshard Street
PO Box 9649 Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria B.C. V8W 9P4

By mail

c/o Registrar's Office
500 – 1765 West 8th Avenue,
Vancouver B.C. V6J 5C6

Consultation and Next Steps

CDSBC's registrants, partner organizations, other dental professionals and members of the public are invited to comment on the proposed change to the Patient Relations Bylaw.

Notice of this amendment has been provided to the Minister of Health, and regulatory colleges of other health professions in the province as required by section 19 (6.2) of the Health Professions Act.

The Board will review and consider all submissions received during the consultation period. If approved, the amendment will be filed with the Ministry of Health.