If you are found guilty of professional misconduct due to a boundary violation, penalties can include:. Engaging in sexual activity with a patient, making sexual remarks, touching a patient in a sexual way or engaging in sexual behaviour in front of a patient are all sexual misconduct, regardless of whether the patient consents.
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It is always unethical and unprofessional for a doctor to breach this trust by entering into a sexual relationship with a patient, regardless of whether the patient has consented to the relationship. For psychiatrists it is misconduct to enter into a sexual relationship with a former patient even though the treating relationship is no longer on foot .
For other specialty groups a relationship with a former patient may be acceptable depending on factors such as the duration of care provided to the patient, time elapsed since the end of the professional relationship and the degree of dependence and vulnerability of the patient. Sexual activity with a person close to a patient such as carer, guardian, spouse or child of the patient, or the parent of a child patient is also unprofessional. If you feel you are at risk of a boundary violation or have overstepped your professional boundaries, seek advice.
Majority of docs say dating a patient crosses ethical line | FierceHealthcare
Dr U was a paediatrician in Private Practice. Although he worked in a metropolitan practice, he was professionally isolated.
He commenced a sexual relationship with the mother of a patient which continued intermittently over 3 years. He was deeply remorseful for the effect the relationship had had on his patient, her partner and his own family and admitted that his conduct amounted to professional misconduct. The doctor took steps to address the issues that led to the transgression including:.
The Tribunal was satisfied that Dr U demonstrated genuine insight and contrition and had taken positive steps to address the issues which allowed the conduct to occur. He was reprimanded, and had conditions placed on his registration requiring ongoing psychiatric treatment and mentoring . Interaction with patients which is not of a sexual nature can still be considered unprofessional. What about inviting a patient to have a coffee or to go for drinks?
Each case will be decided on its particular circumstances, so a year-old doctor inviting a year-old patient whom he or she has known for many years to share a coffee if they meet accidentally in a shopping centre is unlikely to attract censure. In contrast a year-old practitioner inviting an year-old patient to have drinks after work is likely to be considered a boundary transgression. It is a step which is much more likely to blur the boundaries between an appropriate doctor-patient relationship and one which is inappropriate. We live and work in an age of informality and multiple forms of communication.
Be careful in your interactions with patients not to blur the boundaries and open the way for transference or misinterpretation.
Working in regional areas can be especially difficult. If the population in the area is particularly small, the opportunities to have usual social contact are reduced and it may be that almost all persons the doctor meets socially, have also at some point been patients.
While Tribunals have recognised that these difficulties do exist, they still expect you to take all reasonable steps to avoid relationships with patients. To help her manage her condition he emailed her sound files with music he believed she liked and also pictures of art and other subjects. When an explanation was given, the Board took no adverse action, but the practitioner could have avoided the stress of a disciplinary process by recognising some of the warning signs.
When the patient tried to encourage more personal sharing, the practitioner could have firmly but kindly indicated it was important not to blur boundaries. Medical examinations can be misinterpreted by patients, and they can be left feeling that proper boundaries have been crossed so when conducting examinations:.
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Doctors' Health Fund, created by doctors A fund that lets you choose your provider, the level of cover that suits you, and supports the medical community as a whole. Likewise the British Medical Association advises: For one, the doctor is in a position of power over the patient. Thus in recent times there has been a debate whether doctors can date patients under special circumstances — like when the professional relationship between them has ceased.
On the face of it, a romantic relationship between a doctor and a former patient should pose no objection.
Sexual boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship
According to the American Medical Association policy, "At a minimum, a physician's ethical duties include terminating the physician-patient relationship before initiating a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship with a patient. The primary argument in favor of the possibility of a romantic relationship between a doctor and a former patient lies in the fact that the wishes of two consenting adults should be respected.
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If two adults who are not currently in a doctor-patient relationship and who are completely aware of their situation and their consequences desire to date each other, there should be no objections from any quarter. Doctors point out that since they make life and death choices every day in their professional lives, they should be trusted to have the wisdom and objectivity to make a decision affecting their personal life too.
A second equally reasonable and a far more practical argument in favor of doctors being allowed to date former patients comes mainly from the ranks of family physicians. Doctors practicing family medicine in small communities and villages are likely to have treated almost the entire population some time or other in the past in their professional capacity — this would make it well nigh for a single doctor to find a partner in the village since practically everyone is a former patient.
And yet certain precautions must be maintained, warn most medical bodies.