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South Dakota Chiropractic
Professional Boundaries Training

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What are Professional Boundaries?

When it come to building the defining lines associated with professional boundaries considerations for you and your practice you need to build an industrial strength boundaries  fence. This will divide you and your patient only in regards to professional boundary training. Before you can defend yourself regarding this somewhat ambiguous concept we need to identify exactly what a boundary is before we can train and protect ourselves from a boundary crossing.

That is the goal of this segment - Define What a Professional Boundary is.

Definition of a Professional Boundary

Boundaries are the limits that allow for safe connections between individuals.

Our understandings of what are acceptable boundaries grow out of our family of origin.  Boundaries are mutually understood, unspoken physical and emotional limits of the relationship between the patient and the doctor.


The ACA Ethics Committee ("Committee") has received numerous requests for clarification relative to the ethical implications of sexual intimacies between a doctor of chiropractic and a patient he or she is treating. This advisory opinion is intended to resolve any misunderstanding and to state that it is the opinion of the Committee that sexual intimacies with a patient is unprofessional and unethical based on the existing ethical provisions in the ACA Code of Ethics: A(6), A(7), A(10) and C(2).

The physician/patient relationship requires the doctor of chiropractic to exercise utmost care that he or she will do nothing to "exploit the trust and dependency of the patient." Doctors of chiropractic should make every effort to avoid dual relationships that could impair their professional judgment or risk the possibility of exploiting the confidence placed in them by the patient. (Approved 1991)

When you see the movie icons (like this one to the left) click on the icon to watch the movie. This movie is introduction to Professional Boundaries Presentation. It takes some time for the movie to stream, so read on while the movie loads!

South Dakota Board of Examiners Sanctioning Options

You also should visit your own examining board's web site to review what sanction options the board has to consider if a boundary violation is found to be warranted. The statute states...
 "20:41:09:11.  Code of ethics. A chiropractor shall follow the preamble, parts A, B, C, and the addendum of the 1997 American Chiropractic Association Code of Ethics"
Please take a moment to read What It States

Think about the keys to what the presentation tells you about Professional Boundaries.

  • The ethical considerations between you and your patient are of the greatest importance, because there needs to be trust and comfort felt by the patient.
  • How a patient interprets the things you say and do is not always anywhere near what you meant to communicate.
  • You as the doctor are always in the position of power and knowledge.
  • The Doctor must always be in control of the emotional elements of the relationship.
  • The Doctor - Patient relationship by definition is one of unequal powers.
  • The Doctor - patient relationship is especially vulnerable to abuse.
  • The Doctor best serves their patients by acting as advocates and fostering their patientsí rights to receive good health care.
  • Doctors are expected to deal honestly with patients and colleagues, to respect their rights and to safeguard patient confidences within the constraints of the law.
  • We have an obligation to honor our duty to our patient, our profession and society.

Sexual activity may not be covered by malpractice insurance especially if it relates to any criminal activity. The tens of thousands in legal bills may very well end up directly on the doctors lap.

Are You Covered For Boundary Violations With Your Malpractice?

Unfortunately, sexual misconduct allegations are becoming more and more prevalent among the chiropractic profession. Some sources suggest many of these charges are well founded and justifiable. However they can also be  based on misunderstanding or even malice rather than on a doctor's actual behavior. 

Great! Now we have a better grasp of what it is we are talking about. Lets move on to the next topic regarding who is it that becomes involved in professional boundary violations. Just click on the blue link below to move ahead!

On to Page 3


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