From ancient times to the present, medical ethics is a highly controversial topic all the time. And one of the most significant aspects of medical ethics regulating the medical community is the relationship between a doctor and patient. Almost all civil societies of the world uphold that the first and foremost responsibility of a doctor is to the patient’s wellbeing. Dating or engaging in a sexual relationship with the patient thus becomes a highly sensitive issue in this case.
Almost all developed countries stop any romantic or sexual relationship between a doctor and a patient. The American Medical Association is unequivocal about this and under its Code of Medical Ethics 8.14, notes that “Sexual contact that occurs concurrently with the patient-physician relationship constitutes sexual misconduct”1. Likewise, the British Medical Association advises: "As a general principle, sexual relationships or emotional dependence between doctors and their patients or the close relatives of patients must be discouraged." It further goes on to say that “Doctors who discover that a person with whom they are developing a personal or sexual relationship is also their patient should immediately cease the relationship or take reasonable steps to make sure that medical process goes smoothly.
Here are some reasons why doctor-patient dating or a romantic relationship is discouraged in most situations.
First, the obligation of the doctor is saving/ curing patients. By the communication and education with the patients, doctors could learn more about their health condition and can better treat her/him. But if a doctor becomes romantically interested in a patient, he/she may succumb to the lure of using his/her medical knowledge to advance his/her romantic aspirations and not necessarily in a positive manner.
Second, when a patient went to see the doctor, whatever they say they will do as they say. As when a person’s physical and mental faculties are thus compromised, any relationship entered into is usually not from a position of strength and equality but rather weakness and vulnerability.
Among the strongest arguments against a current doctor-patient romantic relationship is the possibility of a physician’s professional judgment being compromised. When a doctor is romantically involved with a patient, it is extremely likely that the former’s emotions may thwart his/her objectivity and professional prudence. Thus a doctor may be motivated to treat or withhold treatment to his/her patient in a way which is not entirely in the latter’s interest. In the process, the patient may suffer and his/her well-being compromised which runs against all principles of medical ethics. Indeed the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics on the Physician-Patient relationship states that “The relationship between patient and physician is based on trust and gives rise to physicians’ ethical obligations to place patients’ welfare above their own self-interest and above obligations to other groups, and to advocate for their patients’ welfare.”
However, laws and ethics are as much subject to change as are social dynamics of which ultimately form a part.
Undoubtedly, a relationship between a doctor and patient is fraught with complications. However once the professional relationships have stopped completely, it may be possible for a doctor and a former patient to have a fulfilling dating experienceprovided the new relationship is equal and emotionally healthy.
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