Doctors dating patients relatives

Whereas many qualified their answers with caveats that they themselves would not engage in such a relationship and that "99.9% of the time" having a relationship with a patient is verboten, "there are weird instances in life when I can see this happening," wrote one general surgeon."Of course, the physician-patient relationship would have to end." Many make the important distinction that the intimacy or longevity of the professional relationship plays a large role in determining the ethics of the personal one.

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Bruce Vande Vusse, a Michigan-based healthcare litigator, notes that "These things only come out in situations where somebody is unhappy -- whether it's a former patient or a jilted spouse, or some concerned character who blows the whistle and says the relationship is improper.

However the fuse gets lit, the provider is going to be starting on the defensive." Vande Vusse cautions physicians against any involvement with current patients -- "that's a Mount Everest to overcome" -- and calls 6 months "way too short a waiting period to say 'proceed without risk.'" As for the risks, they include possible money judgments, loss of society membership, license revocation, and more serious consequences.

Goodman are less sympathetic and advise country doctors to "find someone in the next town over," rather than muddy the legal and ethical waters. The boundaries between friendship and "something more" aren't always clear.

Because relationships morph with time, it's often difficult to define starting and stopping points. Strangely, determining when the professional physician/patient relationship is over can be similarly murky.

The AMA notes that the prior doctor/patient relationship may unduly influence the patient and that such a relationship is unethical if the doctor "uses or exploits trust, knowledge, emotions or influence derived from the previous professional relationship." Ethicists, such as Dr.

Richard Martinez, director of forensic psychiatry services at Denver Health Medical Center and the author of several articles on ethical decision-making and the patient/physician relationship, says the AMA was wise to leave a little wiggle room in its opinion. "Every ethical dilemma has to be evaluated and considered on a case-by-case basis." That simple "it's complicated" answer captures the spirit of nearly one third of the respondents' remarks.

"The critical issue is the change from being a patient," writes a general surgeon. It is the termination of the doctor/patient relationship that is essential." A family practice physician expresses a similar sentiment: "I don't know what the magic number of months is that should pass after the doctor/patient relationship has ended. "It's to promote thoughtful, reasoned decision-making. It's not personal risk management." Consequently, whereas one physician might harmoniously pursue a relationship with a former patient, another physician may not be so lucky.

But it must be ended beyond all doubt, for a substantial period of time, before a romantic or sexual relationship can begin." Although the ethics of a relationship may be situational, a wrong decision could work against you if any court-related issues subsequently arise. If the relationship doesn't work out the way the patient wished, he or she could bring charges against the physician -- even if it was the patient who initiated the relationship -- and that can present big problems for the physician.

"For example, I would be less concerned about an ophthalmologist getting involved with a patient who has had general yearly visits than I would an internist or oncologist." Likewise, "the fact that you met them as a patient once in an ER, or you cared for them years ago and they are no longer your patient should not be absolute barriers to a relationship if it develops," wrote an obstetrician/gynecologist. Some specialties by their very nature create a more intimate relationship, and one that makes the patient more vulnerable.

Recognizing that, the American Psychiatric Association categorically prohibits sexual relationships with either current or former patients. "You definitely have to dissect the relationship," he says.

Under the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for nurses and midwives, which replaces the previous Singapore Nursing Board Code of Conduct for nurses and midwives (1993), ‘indulging in inappropriate relationships with clients’ counts as professional misconduct.

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