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Patient Relations Program

Under the Health Professions Act, the CDSBC Bylaws establish a patient relations program to prevent professional misconduct, including that of a sexual nature.

Professional misconduct of a sexual nature is defined as sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the dentist, dental therapist or CDA and a patient. It includes touching, behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature. These are differentiated from touching, behaviour and remarks that are clinical in nature and appropriate to the dental service being provided.

Proposed amendments to CDSBC's patient relations bylaw regarding the treatment of spouses was opened for consultation and approved by the Board. The amendment has been filed with the Ministry of Health and will come into force 19 August 2016.

Patient relations and treatment of spouses

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

The amended bylaw reads as follows:

"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 involving

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

The proposed amendment to Bylaw 13.03 (5) regarding the patient relations program was open for consultation in February 2016, with minimal feedback received. The Board approved the change and submitted the amended bylaw to the Ministry of Health, which has accepted it for filing. The revised bylaw will come into force 19 August 2016.

The Ministry of Health Services’ position

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.