File Number: Chiro18/432P
Practitioner: Dr N
Hearing Start Date:
Hearing End Date:
Sexual misconduct - inappropriate relationship
Dismissed on appeal
Name Suppression to Practitioner
Interim order name suppression for practitioner and any identifying details.
Interim order of name suppression to be continued until the end of the appeal period
Name Suppression to Complainant and/or Patient and/or client
Interim order name suppression for complainant
Permanent order of name suppression for complainant
Name Suppression to Practitioner
The practitioner appealed to the High Court against the Tribunal's decision. The High Court upheld the appeal T v a Professional Conduct Committee  NZHC 1179 and by consent of both parties ordered permanent suppression of the practitioner's name.
The practitioner appealed the decision of the Tribunal to the High Court. The High Court up held the appeal and quashed the Tribunal's decision, setting aside the penalty orders. T v a Professional Conduct Committee  NZHC 1179.
Precis of Decision:
On 9 July 2019, the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) considered a charge of professional misconduct laid by a Professional Conduct Committee against Dr N, a registered chiropractor, formerly of Dunedin (the Chiropractor).
The charge alleged the Chiropractor acted in an inappropriate and/or unprofessional manner by entering into an intimate and/or sexual relationship with a current patient.
The hearing proceeded on the basis of an Agreed Summary of Facts. The Chiropractor acknowledged that she had entered into a sexual relationship with the Patient and that he had been her patient before the sexual relationship started. The Chiropractor said that she did not believe she was in breach of the Chiropractic Board’s Code of Ethics (Code of Ethics) because the Patient was her partner at the time.
The Code of Ethics creates a general prohibition against sexual relationships with patients, with a narrow exception for a chiropractor who is providing treatment to a spouse or partner.
The Chiropractor acknowledged that the relationship became sexual after the Patient had attended a chiropractic consultation.
The Tribunal was satisfied that the nature of the Chiropractor’s and the Patient’s relationship was such that the Patient could not be described as “spouse or partner” of the Chiropractor as intended by the Code of Ethics.
The Tribunal further found that exception to the general prohibition on sexual relationships between a practitioner and a patient only applies to pre-existing relationships. It is not intended to permit a chiropractor to commence a sexual relationship with a patient.
The Tribunal found the charge of professional misconduct was established.
The Tribunal ordered that:
- the Chiropractor be censured;
- if or when the Chiropractor returns to practice in New Zealand within a three year period, prior to recommencing practice as a chiropractor she is to successfully complete appropriate training and/or courses in professional obligations and ethical standards as set or approved by the Chiropractic Board and for her to cover all costs associated with such training; and
- the Chiropractor pay costs of $15,198.98 which was 25% of the total costs.
The Tribunal further ordered publication of the decision
The Chiropractor appealed the substantive decision to the High Court and the appeal was allowed. The finding of professional misconduct against the Chiropractor was quashed and the penalty was set aside. T v a Professional Conduct Committee  NZHC 1179. By consent of both parties, the High Court ordered permanent suppression of the practitioner's name.