Professional Code of Conduct

OsteopathyBC Code of Ethics

What is a Code of Ethics?

A code of ethics is a statement that expresses the values, obligations and goals of a profession. It is a written commitment from the members of a profession to the public to uphold the values and ethical obligations expressed in the code.

This code of ethics lays out the values and standards of behaviour of members of the OsteopathyBC/SPMPO. The goal of this code of ethics is to provide protection to the public and to promote public good.

This code applies to each and every member of the BC registered Society for the Promotion of Manual Practice Osteopathy (OsteopathyBC/SPMPO).

This document cannot hope to foresee all the problems and situations with which an Osteopathic Practitioner may be confronted in his or her career. This document can only set out principles. The board of directors will update these guidelines and it is the responsibility of the member to keep their ethics folders up to date.

Mission Statement of the OsteopathyBC/SPMPO

The OsteopathyBC/SPMPO protects and serves the public by monitoring the quality of services provided by the Osteopathic Practitioners in the province of British Columbia. The OsteopathyBC/SPMPO provides support to the members and to the profession by promoting and developing osteopathic manual practice in British Columbia, consulting lawyers as needed, and seeking regulation for the profession.

Scope of Osteopathic Manual Practice

Osteopathic manual practice involves the assessment of the tissues of the body, including the soft tissues, joints, organs and cranial structures. It includes the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of these tissues by manipulation to maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.

Part 1: The Individual Therapist

1.0 The Individual Osteopathic Practitioner

Commitment to the Patient, the Profession and to the Employer 
To the Patient: The Osteopathic Practitioner agrees to use the skill derived from his/her training and experience to take reasonable care when advising and treating their patients. In return patients agree to pay a fee. The terms for this contract including full disclosure of the amount of fees in question should be agreed upon before the commencement of a treatment. The Osteopathic Practitioner agrees to treat the patient with full commitment to the guidelines outlined in this ethics code and the standards of practice of the profession.

To the Profession: The Osteopathic Practitioner agrees to uphold the dignity and values of the profession of Osteopathic manual practice. The Osteopathic Practitioner agrees to refrain from any activity that would go against the code of ethics and to avoid any activity, which would bring the OsteopathyBC/SPMPO or the osteopathic profession into disrepute.

To the Employer: In the event that the requirements of an employer differ from those outlined in the code of ethics, it is the responsibility of the Osteopathic Practitioner to conform to those outlined in the profession code of ethics.

Ethical Guidelines for Patient - Practitioner Interactions

The Osteopathic Practitioner:
1.1 Acts in the best interest of the patient.

1.2 Involves the patient in planning and implementation of their own health care.

1.3 Provides information to the patient to allow the patient or possibly the patients substitute decision maker to make informed choices about their health care.

1.4 Recognizes the possible power imbalances inherent between practitioners and patients, respects professional boundaries, and refrains from exploiting the relationship for personal gain, or to influence decision making.

1.5 Will not use their professional positions to seek or receive unjustified personal gains, sexual favors, unfair advantage, or unearned goods or services, in particular will not engage in exploitative relationships with individuals over whom they have supervisory, evaluative, or instructional control or authority.

1.6 Does not engage in any type of sexual intimacies with current patients.

1.7 Does not allow personal health problems, physical or mental to affect patient care.

1.8 Listens to and respects a patient’s values, opinions, needs, and cultural beliefs.

1.9 Respects diversity and does not discriminate against patients because of age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status.

1.10 Is informed of the moral and legal rights of the patient.

1.11 Supports patients in exercising their moral and legal rights.

1.12 Is aware of the protection of patient privacy and confidentiality, and holds all personal and health information in confidence.

1.13 Stays involved in helping the profession in improving its standards and values.

1.14 Refrains from involvement in any action that permits remuneration for referral services.

1.15 Takes full responsibility for ensuring that all working relationships adhere to the standards of practice for an Osteopathic practitioner.

1.16 Charges fees that are reasonable for services rendered.

1.17 Acts with civility and courtesy towards colleagues, employers and associates.

1.18 Refrains from any behaviour that may be construed as harassment or abuse of patients, associates or employees.

1.19 Maintains the same standard of ethical conduct in all online activities (ie. Email, social networks, blogs and websites) as would be expected elsewhere.

1.20 Refrains from practicing under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any illegal substances (with the exception of prescribed dosage of prescription medication which does not significantly impair the Osteopathic Practitioner).

1.21 Has the right to refuse and/or terminate the service to a patient who is abusive or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any illegal substance.

1.22 Will not undertake research involving human subjects without having a research protocol which complies with current ethical guidelines.

1.23 Protects the patient’s physical and emotional privacy.

1.24 Assists a patient in expressing his or her own needs.

1.25 Respects the patient's right to refuse treatment.

1.26 Respects the patient's rights to make an informed choice of Osteopathic Practitioners, therapists, and other services.

1.27 Acts on behalf of the patient to ensure that others respect the patient's rights and needs.

2.0 Confidentiality 
Osteopathic Practitioners are obligated to maintain and protect the privacy of the patient’s personal information and must not disclose any such information to anyone without the proper patient authorization. Following the guidelines of the Freedom of Information and Personal Protection Act (FOIPP), the Osteopathic Practitioner shall only collect such information as is pertinent and absolutely necessary for proper patient care and shall not disclose this information without consent from the patient.

"personal information" means recorded information about an identifiable individual other than contact information; (Freedom of Information and Protection Act [RSBC 1996], Chapter 165, Schedule 1)

3.0 Collegiality 
Being responsible for the patient’s wellbeing will include from time to time involvement of many health care providers. Collaboration and teamwork in providing this health care is essential to ensuring quality service and patient care.

Ethical Guidelines for Collegial Interactions

The Osteopathic Practitioner:

3.1 Assists other Osteopathic Practitioners as requested.

3.2 Respects other members of a health care team, their philosophical differences and similarities in the treatment of the patient.

3.3 Shares information with these other health care providers, with prior consent of the patient, except where required by law.

3.4 Collaborates with other health care providers in the planning and implementation of patient care.

3.5 Intervenes if needed if any member of the health care team appears to be providing care or service to the patient in an incompetent or unethical manner.

3.6 Upholds the standards and guidelines of the profession.

3.7 Represents themselves honestly and performing only those services for which they are qualified.

Part 2: The Profession and Society

4.0 Communication of Professional Values 
Osteopathic manual practice represents its ethical values in two ways, through the actions of the profession as a whole and through the individual actions of each of its members.

Ethical Guidelines

The Profession:
4.1 Becomes involved in any movement that may have a positive effect, or enhance the position of Osteopathic manual practice in the field of healthcare

4.2 Creates opportunities to educate the public as to the benefits and uses of Osteopathy as a form of healthcare.

4.3 Is committed to taking appropriate opportunities to promote the well being of the general public.

5.0 Advocacy for Quality Care 
In providing opportunities for well being in society, the profession should participate in any initiative that will make Osteopathic manual practice more accessible to each member of that society. Advocacy for improving access to Osteopathic manual practice and other health care, preventative education, and timely intervention should be undertaken publicly. When it is possible, inclusion with other health care groups should be attained.

Ethical Guidelines

The Profession:
5.1 Commits to continuous improvement of our ethics and standards of practice.

5.2 Collaborates with other health care groups to meet the need of the public.

5.3 Conveys accurate information regarding access to Osteopathic manual practice and pursues ways to improve this access.

5.4 Develops materials to help Osteopathic Practitioners to deal with ethical dilemmas and decisions as part of this continuous learning.


Osteopathic Practitioners are expected to follow all personal and professional legal rules. No booklet could cover all aspects of ethical judgment. This code of ethics is a constant work in progress and will be updated as new situations occur. This code of ethics is to be used as a guideline for Osteopathic Practitioners to make sound judgments in times of ethical uncertainty.