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Physiotherapist being inappropriate?

(19 Posts)
Doughnut123 Wed 03-Jun-15 00:29:35

Hello, I would appreciate your views on something that happened at a physiotherapy appointment I had yesterday. I have arthritis and have been getting hip pain for a while, so I was referred to an NHS physiotherapist.
I had my initial assessment yesterday at the local hospital. The physio went through the usual routine. Asking me to bend and touch my toes and do various stretches, to see what brought on the pain. Then he wanted to look at my back. I have arthritis in my spine , so he needed to look at it. He asked me to take off my hoodie, I was wearing a vest underneath. Then he said,' I'll just tuck your vest under your bra ' and promptly did.
Now, am I being over sensitive or is that being disrespectful and crossing the line? Personally ( and I speak as an ex nurse), I don't think he should have done that. It was inappropriate and a bit letchy. I'm 50 and perfectly capable of tucking my vest under my bra! I understand that he needed to look at my back, but it felt like he was treating me like a piece of meat. He didn't ask permission, he just did it. I think he should have asked me to do it. He had no reason to go anywhere near my bra.

HeresMyBrightIdea Wed 03-Jun-15 00:31:49

My physio does this all the time. I'd rather he just do it then make me faff around, although it would have been nicer for your physio to check that you were okay with that first.

I don't think he was being inappropriate, though.

FireCanal Wed 03-Jun-15 00:49:09

Its probably a speed thing, a lot of people wouldn't actually find it that easy to do. I had a long-running shoulder issue and couldn't get one arm round my back when I was way under 50. When I did new baby examinations I always undressed them myself, I could get a baby out of a babygrow in a fraction of the time it took a newbie parent to do it grin.

I don't think touching the back of your bra is disrespectful. The front possibly would have been.

ashtrayheart Wed 03-Jun-15 01:17:41

If he was looking at your spine I would have thought it would be easier for him to tuck it in, than you reach to do it. How he made you feel is a different matter as none of us were there, but I don't think the act itself is necessarily inappropriate.

TheCowThatLaughs Wed 03-Jun-15 01:22:03

I think he should have asked first, but as an ex nurse you probably know that sometimes hcps do say eg I'll just roll your sleeve up, or I'll take your sock off. Really they should ask and wait for consent, but there is no malicious or disrespectful intent.

holidaysarenice Wed 03-Jun-15 01:35:47

As a physio I don't think it's inappropriate at all. Obviously less exposure than removing the vest top totally, so was thinking of your feelings instead.

TheCowThatLaughs Wed 03-Jun-15 01:35:47

However, you didn't feel comfortable with him touching your bra so it would be fine for you to tell him you would rather do it yourself in future, or perhaps take control back and do it yourself first if he needs yo look at your spine again

Timetoask Wed 03-Jun-15 01:55:35

Meh you're being over sensitive

NotCitrus Wed 03-Jun-15 02:39:07

He was probably surprised you didn't take the vest off and trying to work round that in a hurry. Now you know that your boundaries are further than many peoples you could be explicit about them next time - and many people, especially already attending a physio, would have found tucking-in difficult.

RedRugNoniMouldiesEtc Wed 03-Jun-15 02:41:57

This was tucking it under the back of your bra?

CarriesBucketOfBlood Wed 03-Jun-15 02:56:37

I imagine he works with a lot of people who would find that kind of action impossible, and therefore it is the normal way in which he operates? It doesn't sound inappropriate to me, although maybe surprising if you were expecting to do it yourself.

Butterflywings168 Wed 03-Jun-15 03:01:47

Um no, 'I'll just x' isn't asking! A lot of people would find it difficult to say no, I'd rather do it myself (or whatever).
I know a lot of HCPs do this but - please don't.

Doughnut123 Wed 03-Jun-15 09:15:13

Thank you. All points taken. And yes, maybe I am being a bit over sensitive. But I have worked as a nurse and the whole idea of patient care is treating them with respect and as individuals, no matter what their age or ability, asking permission and not simply doing something because it is quicker and easier for you, the health professional.
Also, I am bound to be more sensitive, because I was groped by a doctor during a medical examination in New York years ago. I had gone to him with what turned out to be vaginitis, which, obviously, he had to examine me for. But he made me remove my bra and groped my breasts. And I stupidly allowed him to! It was that ridiculous thing of him being the doctor.
This just highlights to me that patients are vulnerable, whatever their age or condition and health professionals are in a position of power and trust which they should never forget.

Homerun Wed 03-Jun-15 18:16:36

Hmmm. i completely agree that consent should always be sought in order to uphold respect in the NHS and prevent scandalous lack of care that has been seen recently (staffs etc).
However, there is a big difference in the care you received. If more people react like you to this poor physio we'll end up in a situation where written consent will be required for every procedure. Yet another pointless paperwork exercise preventing HCPs from doing their job properly - treating patients.

Thymeout Thu 04-Jun-15 20:01:11

I think your previous experience is colouring your reaction. I'm so sorry that happened to you, but I don't agree with your interpretation of what happened on this occasion.

He wasn't treating you as a piece of meat. He didn't just do it. He told you he was going to do it so you weren't taken by surprise. At that point, you could have objected, tho' I'm at a loss as to why you should have wanted to. He needed to look at your spine.

It's possible it might have been easier for him if you'd taken your vest and your bra off, so he could see your whole spine. But it sounds as if he was trying to work around that, so you didn't feel too exposed.

I think this preoccupation with 'consent' can be taken too far. AFAIAC, the fact that I am voluntarily in the doctor's office to be treated means I accept that it may involve a physical examination and implies that I am consenting to whatever is necessary. Nothing in your post sounds unreasonable given the nature of your condition.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Fri 05-Jun-15 14:31:59

I've seen loads of physios, they've all done this and similar . Not inappropriate at all.

Butterflywings168 Fri 05-Jun-15 17:57:11

Sorry that happened to you, OP.
Thymeout what a ridiculous idea that because she has suffered worse violation before she isn't entitled to be uncomfortable about this? Really?! As I said 'I am just going to do <whatever> is NOT getting consent. Some patients may not feel able to object. He may not have even waited for her to do so.
I would have been very uncomfortable with this - a male hcp touching my bra. I would complain if that happened to me. That it's not mid Staffs doesn't mean anything short of that is ok. In fact the culture that patients are pieces of meat and you don't question HCPs has led to gross misconduct like that. Small violations lead to larger ones.
Suggest you read the many threads on consent in childbirth on here.

Thymeout Fri 05-Jun-15 18:43:44

I did not say she was not entitled to feel uncomfortable. Obviously, given her previous trauma, it is entirely understandable that she did.

However, OP was posting to ask if others would also have found the physio's actions inappropriate. 10 people have said that they wouldn't have found it inappropriate and given reasons why. I would hope that our comments have reassured the Op that she hasn't suffered a second violation.

bobajob Fri 05-Jun-15 18:59:58

I don't think the action of tucking your vest in was inappropriate, but he should have asked first.

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