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Inappropriate treatment by massage therapist (07HDC18827)
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(07HDC18827, 21 November
Neuromuscular therapist ~ Inappropriate massage ~
Professional standards ~ Rights 4(2), 6(2), 7(1)
The mother of a 14-year-old girl complained about the treatment
provided to her daughter by a neuromuscular therapist. The girl had
recently undergone surgery to treat congenital bunions, and had
sought treatment from the therapist because she continued to
experience pain with activity.
The neuromuscular therapist saw the patient, accompanied by a
parent, on five separate occasions. During the first three sessions
he focused on massaging the lower leg. However, during the final
two sessions he spent time massaging the groin muscles.
It was held that while the neuromuscular therapist took some
steps to explain his proposed treatment, involving massage around
the groin area, he did not provide sufficient information, and
breached Right 6(1). He also breached Right 7(1) as he provided a
health service without informed consent.
It was also held that the treatment technique was not the most
appropriate for the girl's condition, and the therapist breached
Right 4(2) by failing to provide services that complied with
relevant professional standards. He also failed to comply with his
professional obligation to adequately document the services he
provided, in breach of Right 4(2).
The therapist was referred to the Director of Proceedings, who
filed a claim in the Human Rights Review Tribunal seeking relief,
including a declaration and damages, on behalf of the consumer for
the massage therapist's breaches.
Having regard to agreed facts and to the fact that other aspects
of the relief initially claimed by the Director had been resolved
between the parties, the Tribunal issued a declaration pursuant to
s 54(1)(a) of the Act that the actions of the massage
therapist were in breach of rights 4(2), 6(2) and 7(1) of the