Wednesday, June 4, 2014

76 Year Old Los Angeles Chiropractor Accused of Sexually Assaulting A Patient - What Can You Learn From This?

On June 3, 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported that a 76 year old chiropractor -- practicing for 40 years -- was arrested of sexually assaulting a patient.  Manuel Domingo Chacon was arrested and was held on $100,000 bail but it should be remembered that these are accusations and he is presumed innocent.

While we do not know the facts of this case, it is a reminder that a "sexual assault" or "sexual touching" allegation is very difficult to defend.  My recommendation is for there to be a chaperon in the room where patient are seen. The doors should remain open unless there is a chaperon there.

I often have clients claim they cannot afford it but I recommend having a low skilled medical assistant who can assist with charts and who can enter in each chart their presence during the examination.  I have had clients careers harmed by allegations much less serious than a rape or sexual assault.  I have seen medical providers of brushing up against the outside of someone's clothing for a second. I have seen a physician accused of brushing up his clothed groin area against a patient while performing a laser procedure.

It is not only criminal allegations that are the concern.  If a patient makes that complaint to a Medical, Chiropractic, Pharmacy, Behavioral Science or other Board, those Boards will almost always let them go to hearing and let a judge decide the validity of the allegation.

As part of your best practices, consider making this change in your practice. In today's world, it is easy for someone to make a false claim in the hopes of getting a settlement or if they have psychiatric or other psychological problems that could add to the issue.  Make sure any inappropriate comments by patients are charted and if there are patients who have boundary issues, consider discharging those patients from your practice (while following all the rules and precautions in discharging them).  Be safe out there and be healthily paranoid.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates, Attorneys at Law
Phone: 213-233-2260


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