Decision Reminds Medical Radiation Technologists of Consent Obligations

A rare published decision regarding a complaint made against a Medical Radiation Technologist (MRT) provides guidance to MRTs and other health professionals as to their obligations MRTs in connection with patient consent. The decision arose out of complaint made by a patient against an MRT who conducted a bone mineral density test on her. The patient filed a complaint with the College of Medical Radiation Technologists (the “College”), alleging that the MRT intentionally pressed his elbow into her breast while conducting the examination.

The MRT responded to the complaint by denying that he intentionally touched the patient’s breast, but noting that it was possible that he inadvertently touched the patient during the positioning of her body or that his clothing might have touched her without him being aware of this.

The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (the “ICRC”) investigated the complaint and decided to issue a “reminder” to the MRT that “it is his responsibility to be aware that he or his clothing may come in contact with a patient’s body and to ensure that the patient is advised and consents prior to proceeding in order to avoid misunderstandings.”.

The patient requested that the Health Professionals Appeal and Review Board review the ICRC’s decision. On review, the Board found that the ICRC’s investigation was adequate and that its decision was reasonable. Accordingly, it confirmed the ICRC’s decision.

The case is a reminder to MRTs and all health professionals of the importance of obtaining informed consent from patients before any examination or procedure, and particularly to ensure that the patient is informed of the possibility that he or she may be touched – particularly in a sensitive area – during the procedure.

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