Ethics physicians dating patients

The guidance, issued yesterday, tells doctors they cannot initiate ‘sexual’ or ‘improper’ relationships with current patients.But it tells them they can date former patients, as long as they give ‘careful consideration’ to certain factors.‘Although it would not be possible to specify a length of time after which it is acceptable to pursue a relationship with a former patient, it is reasonable to expect that the more recently a professional relationship ended the less likely it is to be appropriate to begin a personal relationship with the patient.’ Doctors should only start a relationship with a former patient if they have used their 'professional judgement' to decide if it is appropriate and are still banned from 'improper' relationships with current patients (file picture) Some senior GPs, however, have previously warned that such relationships are always ‘flawed’.The quality of the patient–physician relationship is important to both parties.The relationship is one that is built in terms of mutual respect, knowledge, trust.The subject of physician-patient boundaries illustrates how well-intentioned policy can be written in a way that is simply too shallow to serve the goals of ethics.If you've sat on a credentials committee, disciplinary panel, or medical-licensing board, you surely reviewed cases of physician-patient sexual involvement.What about sexual relationships after the patient-physician relationship has ended?

Sexual or romantic relationships between a physician and a former patient may be unduly influenced by the previous physician-patient relationship.

Our contemporary attitude toward such encounters is to label them, categorically, as "unprofessional conduct." Given that there is no surveillance of this behavior, physician-patient sex comes to the attention of regulatory agencies only when the patient complains. The nominal standard establishes a rule of "no overlap": a physician-patient relationship must not coexist with a romantic-sexual relationship.

The AMA says: "Sexual contact that occurs concurrent with the physician-patient relationship constitutes sexual misconduct.

Additionally, the doctor and patient's values and perspectives about disease, life, and time available play a role in building up this relationship.

A strong relationship between the doctor and patient will lead to frequent, quality information about the patient's disease.

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