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Is it OK to make friends with your patients outside of the office?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Ypo., Sep 10, 2004.

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  1. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    Hi all,
    I have an ethical question. A doctor I know became friends with a person that was their patient. They are just friends, but they are of opposite sex and have get togethers alone sometimes, just the two of them. This friend/patient is still being treated by the doctor. The doctor is wondering if the patient should pick another doctor.

    What do you guys think about this? Is it OK to become friends with your patients outside of the medical setting? I know its absolutely not OK to date patients, but don't we also need to worry about CYA (cover your @ss?), meaning that outside parties could construe the situation I just described as "dating".

    I would think that a FP in a small town would find it impossible not to be friends with his/her patients as there is no other choice.

    This seems like a fine line. Is it alright to "meet" and make friends with the patients in your practice, or not? :confused:
  2. IndyZX

    IndyZX

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    if you're really just friends, then who cares what it looks like to other people, right?
  3. UseUrHeadFred

    UseUrHeadFred Oh no! It's a Wumpus!

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    I've worked extensively with a FP from a small town. Said FP sometimes had social functions at his estate in said small town. A large number of patients and fellow physicians were always invited.
  4. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    Yea, true, but what I'm saying is-suppose someone wanted to "screw" you over by accusing you of dating one of your patients? Wouldn't it be most prudent for this doctor to tell their patient/friend to just get another doctor?

    I've just been thinking about this lately, and am really not sure of the ethical choice. I thought bringing it up in a discussion around here would help me to see it more clearly.
  5. UseUrHeadFred

    UseUrHeadFred Oh no! It's a Wumpus!

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    Ah, I see. Then I guess it's worth mentioning that the patients of the FP I mentioned earlier are extraordinarily loyal to him.
  6. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member

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    Are you using "friend" as an euphemism for someone you're sleeping with?
  7. nockamura

    nockamura Senior Member

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    Haha pinkertinkle, you have a good sense of humor. Or you didn't read the entire situation.
  8. Pinkertinkle

    Pinkertinkle 2003 Member

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    Well I went through it, it seems to be a non-issue unless the relationship is romantic.
  9. meister

    meister Senior Member

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    In my admittedly nonprofessional opinion, it would only seem like a problem if the relationship clouds the physician's judgement.
  10. dshnay

    dshnay

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    why can't doctors date their patients?
  11. Mr. Seeds

    Mr. Seeds C4M

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    THe best part of being a doctor is getting chicks. :D
  12. Medikit

    Medikit Plastic Bag Middle Class

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    I would worry about it if the doctor was a pediatrician.
  13. ny skindoc

    ny skindoc Senior Member

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    In some states,New York for example useing the doctor patient relationship to "solicit dates"is illegal.Even in places where it is not,should the relationship end it will open the physician to charges of sexual misconduct and abuse.These charges can be very expensive to defend and are often not covered by malpractice insurance.In our day and age these types of interactions are to be strongly discouraged.While in a small town physicians will no doubt be friends with many of their patients its best not to actively seek to make "friends"with your patients especially of the opposite sex.
  14. Psycho Doctor

    Psycho Doctor *** Angel

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    they only can if the patient is their cousin :D
  15. Psycho Doctor

    Psycho Doctor *** Angel

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    I really don't see what's wrong with being "friends" with your doctor, especially in a small town.
  16. governaitor

    governaitor Senior Member

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    So many of my friends were single all through medical school and it seems residents often are in a similar position. Hopefully the pay-off will be later for them because that sucks to be single through the majority of your 20s.
  17. Psycho Doctor

    Psycho Doctor *** Angel

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    how about if a pediatrician dates one of his patient's single moms?
  18. runner1979

    runner1979 Senior Member

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    This situation, like most moral/ethical debates, is a gray area. While in one situation it would be perfectly all right, in another it is probably a poor decision by the physician to pursue a friendship with his patient. I think it comes down to personal judgement..and if you, as a physician, feel that in a certain situation it isn't appropriate, then you need to take the necessary steps to return to a strictly doctor/patient relationship. I guess what I'm saying is that you need all the facts about a particular situation to commit to a one side of this argument
  19. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    No, honestly, though I'm quite flattered that you think the doctor in the post is me, its not. I am still trying to get into medical school.

    The doctor is not sleeping with their friend, like I said they are only friends, but happen to be of opposite sex and do visit each other alone. Understand?
  20. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    :laugh: Luckily that is not the case.
  21. Blake

    Blake

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    That explains why me and half my class is single :rolleyes:. Even residents don't get a lot of " chicks ". It's all about money these days :(
  22. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    Do you think its acceptable to just have your friend see another doctor rather than simply ending the friendship?

    My feelings are the issue are this; Its OK if you have a friend who later chooses to have you as their doctor. Its another thing when you start picking up friends that were first your patients. I just think its a little wierd.

    In a small town, if you have a patient, and then you see them around town at different events and start becoming friends, its OK. But if the only time you see them is in the office, and then you start doing things together...it makes me uneasy.

    I just think its wierd to become friends with someone outside the examining room who was initially your patient. There is a relationship between doctor and patient that should be totally secure and clear. This is where I stand on the issue. I encouraged my doctor friend to tell their friend to just see another doctor-that way there won't be an ethical question anymore.

    Thank you everyone, for your comments.
  23. SunnyS81

    SunnyS81 Senior Member

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    Except in small towns where it is inevitable, I don't think it is right. The role of a physician is supposed to characteristized as an unbiased party in providing advice. It is highly frowned upon to treat friends and family for that reason since you become biased.

    As for CYA for legal purposes, it is usually only against the law if the patient files a complaint from what i understand. In this case, the lady sort of has the doc by his balls by hanging out alone.
  24. katiekate

    katiekate Senior Member

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    Well, you have to look at the issues separately...
    1) the relationship between doctor's patients: I think it's okay for doctors and patients to be friends. However, if either party feels something "more", then the doctor-patient relationship should be terminated and both should continue to develop what chemistry they have.
    2) the age-old debate of platonic relationships between men and women: there are lots of people out there who think that men and women can't be friends without inevitably becoming romantically involved. Those are the people who raise a stink when relationships develop unconventionally.

    If a doctor is sincerely attracted to a patient, or vice versa, and the feelings are mutal I think there should be nothing stopping them from hooking up. Remember the episode of ER when Luca hooks up with his patient's mother in the stockroom? Yeah, that's not a great way to start things ;) :love:
  25. Ypo.

    Ypo.

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    Switch the genders and you'd have the situation right.
    Thanks for the input. This doctor has friends from her church that have chosen her as their PCP, which doesn't seem wierd to me.

    Also, I always thought you were supposed to treat your patients as your friends. Especially an FP, who might know and treat the same family for many many years.

    Well, it seems people are kind of split on this issue. Obviously its a grey line.

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