Doctor dating patient
“It may be symptomatic of the patient’s unsatisfactory life, personality disorder, or even illness,” he says. Doctors are more likely to cross or violate boundaries if they are having personal or professional difficulties.Stress and illness are also sometimes reasons why doctors have acted inappropriately.They should adopt a more formal and professional manner and make sure they focus on medical issues during the consultation.Doctors should politely decline to accept cards or gifts and should discourage an inappropriate frequency of consultations, perhaps by suggesting the patient sees a colleague for a second opinion.They should document these discussions as well as the contacts they have had with the patient, and they should keep a log of all messages the patient has sent, including emails and text messages.It may be necessary to transfer the patient’s care to someone else in the team, and doctors should seek advice from their defence organisation.The types of patients who pursue their doctor range from those with inappropriate feelings that may be secondary to loneliness and poor relationships, to those who are delusional and may have an underlying psychiatric illness. The response to an advance from a patient should be appropriate and proportionate to their actions.Some patients express their feelings by using non-verbal communication—for example, by giving inappropriate gifts or cards.
These measures may not be effective for all patients, and a small number of patients will continue to pursue the doctor in the hope of a relationship, perhaps even believing that the doctor reciprocates their feelings.
A psychiatry opinion should be considered in these cases.
In the event of an advance by a patient, doctors should inform their senior or a colleague.
The figures, which BMJ Careers obtained through a freedom of information request to the GMC, showed that the majority (91%) of these complaints concerned male doctors.
Doctors who enter into a personal relationship with a patient put their registration at risk and can also expect a high level of media interest should the matter become public.
But why do the GMC and the media take such an interest in a relationship between two apparently consenting adults?