The AMA notes that the prior doctor/patient relationship may unduly influence the patient and that such a relationship is unethical if the doctor "uses or exploits trust, knowledge, emotions or influence derived from the previous professional relationship." Ethicists, such as Dr.
Does a coincidental meeting at a cocktail party where you engage in a personal conversation constitute the beginning of a relationship? Many such relationships simply atrophy with inattention. For many physicians, "once a patient/doctor relationship, always a patient/doctor relationship," says Dr. "I think that's what sits behind the 68% of 'No/Never' responses." As one podiatrist notes, "I have had patients return to my practice after 5 or 10 years, so they never stopped being patients really." Others insist there has to be some logical point of demarcation between current and former patients.
If a patient is healthy, he or she doesn't visit the doctor. "If someone was once a patient, left the practice and left town, was out of touch for years, and then returned not as a patient and kindled a relationship, I think that would be acceptable," writes one internist.
To the besotted poet, love is intoxicating, exasperating, invigorating.
To the doctor -- if the would-be paramour is a patient -- it's also unethical.
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.
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.
Also on the list of online bad behavior: prescribing medication and lying about credentials. First of all, how is it fair that they get you to wear a smock with your tush hanging out and they get to play the "I'm a doctor" card?
And don't even get me started on how uncool it is for an OBGYN to ask you to spread 'em, and then decide he wants to ask you ask out.
Others insisted the difference between a current patient and a former one -- at least when it comes to romance -- depends on a formal letter terminating the professional relationship.
Still others noted that a shift in role is more important than the time frame in which that shift occurs.
"If you don't like ambiguity, the right answer is, 'No, never," says Dr.