The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has published its decision following a hearing held at Christchurch in July 2019, and concerning a charge laid by the Director of Proceedings against Mr Peter William Chum, then a physiotherapist practising in Christchurch.
The charge arose from his treatment of a female patient in 2016. The patient, who has permanent name suppression, had suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident and was recovering from surgery. A residential rehabilitation unit referred her to Mr Chum to review “laryngeal and cervical muscle tension which may be influencing voicing and swallowing”.
There were two particulars of the charge. The first alleged breach of professional boundaries, the second that the treatment departed from accepted standards of care. The various particulars made allegations concerning the patient’s nakedness and areas of massage, including requests by Mr Chum that he massage intimate areas of her body. The departure from accepted standards of care allegations referred to the areas said to have been massaged and the circumstances under which this was undertaken.
The charge was upheld. The Tribunal found Mr Chum’s breach of boundaries and departure from accepted standards of care to be malpractice and negligence and conduct that brings discredit to the physiotherapy profession.
The result of the decision was that:
- Mr Chum was censured
- Mr Chum’s registration as a physiotherapist was cancelled
- Mr Chum must satisfy the following conditions before he may apply for re-registration:
- He must have undertaken at his expense and established to the satisfaction of the Physiotherapy Board that he has completed a course in ethics and professional responsibilities and boundaries as directed and approved by the Physiotherapy Board
- He must satisfy the Physiotherapy Board that he has paid all outstanding fines and costs in respect of previous orders of the Tribunal made against him in 2017
- He must have provided to the Physiotherapy Board, in a form directed and approved by it, an undertaking to comply with such conditions as are imposed by the Physiotherapy Board on Mr Chum’s future practice as a physiotherapist.
- Mr Chum was ordered to pay a total of $40,000 towards the costs of the Director of Proceedings, the HDC, and the Tribunal.
The Tribunal also made a permanent order for non-publication of the name and identifying details of the patient involved in the charge, directed publication of the decision on the Tribunal’s website, and requested the Physiotherapy Board to publish either a summary of, or a reference to, the Tribunal’s decision in its next available publication to members, including a reference to the Tribunal’s website to enable interested parties to access the decision.
Physiotherapists are encouraged to refresh their knowledge of the Code of Ethics and to contact the Physiotherapy Board if they have any queries or concerns.