You know that maintaining high ethical standards is essential in your medical practice, due to both your moral responsibility as a professional and the need to maintain a valid license to practice. There are numerous types of sexual misconduct that may cause you to lose your license. For example, sexually harassing or assaulting a patient and making unsolicited sexual advances toward other medical professionals are both actions that may lead to the revocation of your license. However, it is also essential to understand the rules about consensual relationships with your patients.
According to the American Medical Association, it is unethical to engage in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a person while he or she is your patient. The AMA states that romantic or sexual relationships that exist concurrently to physician-patient relationships may have numerous negative consequences. If you are in a romantic relationship with a patient, it may affect your ability to objectively assess his or her health and to make the best medical judgments about treatment. Initiating or accepting a romantic or sexual interaction with a patient may appear to be exploitation and cause you to lose your license.
The AMA states clearly that if you desire to initiate a romantic relationship with a patient, it is essential to stop acting as his or her health care provider first. Once you end the patient-physician relationship, you may choose to pursue a romantic relationship. However, the AMA points out that even relationships with former patients may be dangerous if the former patient feels vulnerable or exploited. It is unethical to use any knowledge or influence you gained while serving as a health care provider to encourage a romantic relationship with a former patient.