Dating a patient
For many would-be Romeos and Juliets, those risks and the potential consequences are enough to squelch the flame. 'No' is the safest answer." For those who remain undaunted?
Similarly, a patient may not even remember the anesthesiologist who presided over his gallbladder surgery or the emergency department doctor who once stitched his finger.
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.
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.
A handful of respondents note that an amorous relationship with a patient might be allowable for physicians in rural areas, where everyone's a patient, but such ethicists as Dr.
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.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.