St Albans physio cleared of biting woman’s shoulder


- Credit: Archant

A St Albans physiotherapist was cleared last week of biting a woman’s shoulder at a city centre clinic.

But Christopher Lewis was said to have “crossed professional boundaries” by leaning over a client and squashing her breasts back in May 2013 at Verulam Clinic, a panel ruled.

A Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) panel decided Mr Lewis’s actions were not sexually motivated.

The panel are to reconvene at the end of this month to consider sanctioning him after deciding his fitness to practise was “impaired”.

Mr Lewis admitted having inappropriate physical contact with the client who was being treated for a fractured shoulder.

An “informal atmosphere” had developed and the pair had been talking about personal matters, the panel heard.

He admitted to giving the woman a hug and that his movement exerted pressure on her chest which was not “clinically required”.

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The woman, who cannot be named, described feeling “vulnerable, uncomfortable and shocked”.

Mr Lewis accepted his conduct was unprofessional. He told the panel: “Not a single day goes by that I don’t go over in my mind where I clearly went wrong”.

The conduct and competence committee decided the client’s account of being bitten might have become somewhat elaborated over time.

Mr Lewis told the panel that his short facial hair may have felt prickly to the woman, who mistook it for a peck on the shoulder.

The committee found the physiotherapist’s fitness to practise remained impaired and that his actions undermined confidence in the profession of physiotherapists.

The panel’s report said: “This was about acting inappropriately with a patient in a vulnerable position and the emotional impact of this action.”