When doctor-patient relationships become inappropriate

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Professional Misconduct |

Doctors owe a duty of care to patients. This means making an accurate and timely diagnosis and administering the appropriate medical treatment. The relationship between doctors and patients should remain professional. 

In some cases, doctors may face accusations of having or forming an inappropriate relationship with a patient, which can put their professional license in jeopardy. When might situations like this occur? 

Emotional relationships 

Doctors can be fond of patients and vice versa. After all, the doctor-patient relationship is founded upon trust. Nonetheless, there is a difference between professional trust and forming an inappropriate emotional bond. For example, if a patient tries to make sexual advances on a doctor, or vice versa, this is always inappropriate. 

If a patient has made sexual advances that were rejected, the doctor should still report this so that professional boundaries can be maintained. Generally ,the best course of action in this scenario is to refer the patient to another doctor. 

Social media use 

Social media plays an important role in most people’s lives, including medical professionals. Nonetheless, online platforms also govern some personal relationships. Adding a patient on social media or accepting a friend request may not seem like a big deal, but it has the potential to cross boundaries. 

If a personal relationship is struck up between a doctor and patient, even purely on social media, this could be deemed inappropriate and may be a threat to the doctor’s professional license. There is also an issue with regard to doctor-patient confidentiality. Any information passed via social media channels could potentially breach this. 

If you have been accused of forming an inappropriate relationship with a patient, it’s important to defend your license. Seeking legal guidance will be the best place to start.