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Can doctors have relations (sexual/non sexual) with their patients?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Trustthedoc, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Trustthedoc

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    I can't seem to find any laws that actually say it's illegal to have relations with your patients on a non healthcare-level. Obviously it would NOT be during the actual visit (ER, GP visit, etc) but I'm talking about actually exchanging contact details (in other words having some sort of romance).

    I suppose the general answer will be no, but is it actually illegal or just really frowned upon (unethical)

    Also just to add, I seen a movie recently that touched on this subject (relationships with a patient), so it sort of sparked up my imagination, it was a good movie too, I'm sure most of you have seen it.
     
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  3. MedPR

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    No.

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  4. Flash7

    Flash7 Let The 4.0 Race Begin...

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    Absolutely not.
     
  5. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum

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    +1

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  6. annonymous819

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    No.

    Even if it's not explicitly illegal, it's dangerous. You're in a position of power which makes you ripe for legal retaliation should a relationship go sour.
     
  7. DAPI

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    Just because it happens on Scrubs, ER, Grey's, House, Becker, HIMYM, etc. does not make it okay in real life.
     
  8. pre med 2014

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  9. pre med 2014

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    This.
     
  10. HealthHare

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    I thought it was ok as long as the person stops being your patient???
     
  11. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum

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    Still seems like a stupid idea

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  12. K31

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    In situations like this, you frequently won't find a law because the government depends of physicians to police themselves. So while you may not get sent to prison, a sexual relationship with a current patient will get your license at least put under scrutiny by the medical board.
     
  13. HealthHare

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    Sounds like an efficient use of time for a doc with a busy schedule. :naughty:
     
  14. pre med 2014

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    'stops being your patient' can be a pretty grey area.
     
  15. FSU2013

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    Sure, it's fine, so long as you don't mind losing your licence to practice medicine.

    Common' people.
     
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  17. MedPR

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    Oh boy

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  18. Planes2Doc

    Planes2Doc Residency is ruff!
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    A lot of things that aren't illegal still violate policies/professional ethics/etc. This was one of the first thing we've learned about clinical medicine.
     
  19. Trustthedoc

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    Dodged a bullet in that case, phew
     
  20. Goro

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    Not illegal; VERY unethical and may possibly get your license to practice revoked.


     
  21. NeuroLAX

    NeuroLAX Discere faciendo

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    +1 We just went over this today in class.
     
  22. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum

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    I'm sure there are other ways to pick up girls or boys than ur patient list...

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  23. Planes2Doc

    Planes2Doc Residency is ruff!
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    The consequences can be very severe. I remember reading that the reasoning behind this is because you are technically taking advantage of a patient during their most vulnerable time. I disagree with that statement though, since there is definitely a difference between a cancer patient that fears for their life and is all over the place emotionally, versus a healthy patient coming in for a yearly physical or something minor like a sore throat.

    I think there's a gray area, but I'd rather not go there. I don't think many of us would. You need to be careful about what you say and do, because it can come back to bite you. This is probably one of those topics we just don't talk about. If a physician does in fact cross the line and engage in inappropriate behavior with a patient, I doubt they would be open about it either.
     
  24. CityLights

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    Anyone remember the anesthesiologist from the Doctors' Diaries? I think he met his wife when she was a patient in the ER. Doesn't seem to have affected him, but I agree that it is unethical. Probably not as bad if the patient relationship is completely over before anything else starts.
     
  25. HughMyron

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    I don't see any point to this unless you're a chubby chaser, or have a thing for old, diseased people.
     
  26. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum

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    Maybe op wants to b a plastic surgern?

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  27. xXIDaShizIXx

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    Don't do it.
     
  28. sector9

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    Representatives from the state medical board came and gave a presentation at my school. They told us that having a relationship with a patient can get your license revoked pretty quick. Although they might not find out about it during the relationship, what happens when things go south and you have a disgruntled ex-lover looking for revenge?
     
  29. pre med 2014

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    Yea but what if it's a patients family member? The elderly under your care could have a lot of attractive daughters and/or granddaughters

    It can become a gray area
     
  30. HealthHare

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    Lost too
     
  31. kindasorta

    kindasorta Carrot

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    State licensures have morality and code of conduct clauses. So yeah they can revoke your license if you sleep with a patient. Although I think you can cease all professional relations, refer them to a colleague, and then sleep with them.
     
  32. Planes2Doc

    Planes2Doc Residency is ruff!
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    That must have been a very fascinating presentation! I didn't think about the blackmail, that is always terrible when people do that. :( The only exposure we had to this topic was extremely brief. We were told it was unethical because patients are vulnerable. Case closed. No gray area.

    I wonder what happens if a physician starts seeing a former patient when they are no longer being treated by the physician. It kind of seems unethical to prevent two consensual adults from seeing each other after the physician-patient relationship has already ended a while ago...
     
  33. CityLights

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    My guess is that this would be professionally frowned upon, but not punishable in any way. Though, I wonder if some psych patients or otherwise vulnerable adults would be an exception to this.
     
  34. Textbookversion

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    This is actually a little more complicated than just "no."

    If the personal relationship pre-existed the patient relationship then no one is going to pull your license. IE if you prescribe your wife abx no one is going to bust your balls. The extent to which you should practice medicine on friends/family is sort of a grey area, and it's generally not a good idea. Minor stuff isn't a big deal though. Just don't go handing out narcs.

    If the personal relationship happens after the doctor-patient relationship is established, you are playing with fire. But again it is possible to fix this. Generally you'd need to terminate the physician-patient relationship and then have some sort of time elapse before you pursued the personal relationship.

    And like all things in life, you can probably get away with breaking the rules it's just risky. I mean if you can impregnate a half dozen patients and then get elected to congress (cough bible belt cough) I'm sure as someone who isn't a public figure you could get away with a lot. Not ethical, not a good idea, scumbag move etc but probably happens more than you'd think.

    Probably a good idea to consult an attorney and your state laws if you have any bad ideas like this.

    edit: and yeah psych is a no man's land as far as this goes. very very bad idea that will get your license stomped on.
     
    #32 Textbookversion, Jan 7, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  35. touchpause13

    touchpause13 nolite te bastardes carborundorum

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    I'm pretty sure for psych there is no real grey area...there is too muxh of a power difference. Seems to me the answer for anyone in psych is never ever ever get too friendly with a patient. My parents are both psychologists and wud say don't ever touch ur patient beyond a handshake

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  36. K31

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    Yes, the general rule is it is OK to have a personal relationship with someone if you terminate the patient-physician relationship first. For psychiatrists it is more strict due to the nature of the work--it is never OK to have a relationship with someone who has ever been your patient.
     
  37. Planes2Doc

    Planes2Doc Residency is ruff!
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    Wow, I feel like my mind has been blown. I remember going over this extremely briefly in class, and then moving onto the next topic. The more you think about it, the more questions you have, especially regarding the gray area! I would love to hear what Sector9 was told during the presentation. That might shed more light on this. Otherwise, this is how I see it...

    I think that typically no matter what, the physician will be looked upon as being predatory. Pretty much trying to take advantage of someone during their most vulnerable time. The patient will probably always be looked upon as a victim.

    I still think that there's a difference between a patient with a serious illness who is emotionally unstable (where the patient might make advances toward the physician or vice versa) versus a healthy patient seeing a PCP where they both feel a mutual attraction. I recently saw my PCP for my regular checkup. Everything was fine. And I can assure everyone here that I was not emotionally unstable or felt vulnerable at all. I doubt most patients seeing a PCP would feel vulnerable either. So in this case, I think the latter would not be frowned upon. It would probably be an entertaining dinner conversation about how they met. But if the patient was either ill or mentally unstable, the physician will be viewed as predatory, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Remember what happened to Eliot Spitzer a few years ago? He was seeing a high-end escort that was making more money a night than most of us on SDN can ever dream of. Yet, she played the sympathy card when she tried to make herself out to be the victim on national TV. As Sector9 has mentioned, this would undoubtedly happen if a relationship goes south.

    And to address your point CityLights, I actually disagree with you on this one. People can definitely be punished. As was mentioned earlier in the thread, physicians can lose their medical licenses if they are caught with a patient! :scared: You might not think that law enforcement or regulatory boards can infiltrate your life like that, but they can. Sorry to keep going with the prostitution theme here, but this happens all the time in Chicago. :p Every other day you hear about prostitution busts in Cook County with escorts and the Johns. Despite two consensual adults agreeing to have sex (well technically for money) behind closed doors, law enforcement can and will still arrest you. So just when you think you're safe from the medical regulatory bodies, you're definitely not.
     
  38. K31

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    Family members are fair game.
     
  39. 487806

    487806 Life of the Party!
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    If they want to get their licenses revoked... so much for years of studying
     
  40. def1

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    probably unethical but Im sure it happens a good amount.

    I know someone personally that dated a neurosurgeon after he treated her. The neurosurgeon was the one who asked her out too.
     
  41. DAPI

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    Ehhh... No one could revoke Jacks' license on the island (or imagination land :laugh:)
     
  42. Titus Times

    Titus Times Afro Doc

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  43. sector9

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    Oh yes, it was a real winner! :uhno: (Actually, there was some interesting stuff that gets talked about occasionally on the forums. Like the part in the box about "Criminal History" means that you have to reveal a lot more about your past than you would on a med school application. And they told us that they have subpoena power to fully investigate issues that may come up)

    Here's a link they sent us with some information http://www.tmb.state.tx.us/firstyears/
    Relevant part near the bottom titled "Professional Boundaries". It touches on the Texas Medical Board's stance on relationships with former patients as well
    In our presentation, they specifically mentioned the vindictive former lover scenario.

    In any case, the whole issue is fraught with potential complications. It's ok to have your spouse as your patient. But there's specific rules with regards to prescribing scheduled drugs to family members that you have to watch out for (big no-no unless there's "immediate need"). They said that you also have to make sure to fully document everything like you would with a normal patient (i.e. they better have a chart, it better be up to date, etc if they come snooping)

    A huge caveat with this whole discussion is that it is a state-by-state issue
     
  44. CityLights

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    Just to be clear I was referring to the scenario where an extraprofessional relationship begins after the termination of the physician-patient relationship - I can't really see people being arrested for that. I'd still be curious about the consequences from medical/specialty boards in that circumstance though. But yeah, that makes sense that psychiatric patients are a completely different situation.
     
  45. Geebeejay

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    I don't know if it's illegal, but pretty unethical and very dangerous. You'll be exposing yourself to potentially some pretty serious legal repercussions if the "victim" decides to turn on you and make defamatory claims, and I imagine most employers won't want to deal with the potential mess if they find out what you're up to. There are plenty of non-patient fish in the sea.
     
  46. lobo.solo

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    No. You will have to refer them to another provider and then do it...
    jk:D
     
  47. Titus Times

    Titus Times Afro Doc

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    What kinda psycho relationship are we talking about here, if you do something wrong to a female they will ruin you physician or UPS man period.
     
  48. neuro nephrons

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    like if you need a 4th bro for your sunday morning golf game?
     
  49. ElCapone

    ElCapone Don't Lawyer Me

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    InB4MelissaThompsonTriesToDatePatient
     
  50. AestheticGod

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    I don't see a problem with it as long as he/she stops being your patient.
     
  51. MedPR

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  52. HopefulSlav

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    I know an OB-GYN that is married to one of his former patients. He even delivered one of her kids (from someone else). Very weird situation.
     
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