What is Mistreatment

Mistreatment is generally defined within the medical education context as intentional or unintentional behaviour that shows disrespect for the dignity of others. Mistreatment can involve a single incident or a pattern of behaviour and can range from subtle gestures and/or comments to egregious actions. Any behaviour involving the mistreatment of another person compromises the learning environment.

Mistreatment includes ‘micro-aggressions’, which are often unintentional, but experienced as a pattern of, snubs, slights, put-downs, and gestures that demean or humiliate individuals based on their belonging to a group, particularly those identified by gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and/or socioeconomic class.

The Temerty Faculty of Medicine recognizes as harmful all of the behaviours and actions that are deemed unacceptable under one or more of the statements, policies, protocols, codes and standards referenced above and listed in the Learner Mistreatment Guideline.

Categories and Examples of Mistreatment

Mistreatment can be categorized in numerous ways. In PGME, Learner Mistreatment  is categorized below.

Behaviours that fall under the discrimination and discriminatory harassment and sexual violence and sexual harassment categories are considered unprofessional. However, they are considered discrete mistreatment categories since they are defined and addressed through specific U of T policies as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The examples provided below are not exhaustive and are not intended to represent the spectrum of behaviours that may be considered mistreatment. If you are unsure, we encourage you to get in touch through the disclosure form.

Unprofessional behaviour

Selected examples:

  • Public humiliation
  • Being subjected to recurring outbursts of anger (e.g. shouting, throwing objects)
  • Being subjected to non-constructive disparaging remarks about the character of another physician / health professional / learner
  • Being subjected to reprisal or a threat of reprisal for bringing a concern forward, where then reprisal is made or threatened by a person in a position to confer or deny a benefit or advancement.

Discrimination and discriminatory harassment

Selected examples:

  • Being subjected to offensive remarks/names related to or based on any of the protected grounds identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Being denied opportunities for training or rewards based on any of the protected grounds identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Receiving lower evaluations/grades based on any of the protected grounds identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Being subjected to reprisal or a threat of reprisal for bringing a Human Rights concern forward, where the reprisal is made or threatened by a person in a position to confer or deny a benefit or advancement.

Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

Selected examples:

  • Being sexually solicited or subjected to an advance made by a person in a position to confer or deny a benefit or advancement to the person where the person making the solicitation or advance knows or ought reasonably to know that it is unwelcome
  • Being subjected to reprisal or a threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance, where the reprisal is made or threatened by a person in a position to confer or deny a benefit or advancement
  • Being subjected to sexist remarks/names
  • Being subjected to sex-related comments about physical appearance or actions
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