Physicans dating patients
"We need new, authoritative public guidance which acknowledges the changes of the last 20 years, maintains the necessary safeguards for the vulnerable against exploitation or coercion, but gives a framework for those who wish to develop proper relationships." In 2011, a poll of 282 GPs by Pulse found that half wanted the rules to be changed to allow them to have relationships with former patients, while 2 per cent admitted they had begun relationships with patients they were still treating.
One month later the patient returned and stated, “I just had to see you again.” During the office visit, she made little eye contact with me.
The updated guidelines outlined in the doctors' handbook Good Medical Practice, and which come into force next month, state: "If you are considering whether to pursue a personal relationship with a former patient, you must use your professional judgment."Although it would not be possible to specify a length of time after which it is acceptable to pursue a relationship with a former patient, it is reasonable to expect that the more recently a professional relationship ended the less likely it is to be appropriate to begin a personal relationship with the patient." Patient groups welcomed the change, saying it was about time the watchdog moved into "the 21st century".Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: "I don't see any problem with it if they are no longer their doctor. The patient requested a prescription for an oral contraceptive and was offered testing, including blood work and mammography.Until now, the General Medical Council has discouraged doctors from having relationships with former patients deemed vulnerable at the time they were being treated, and it continues to ban them with current patients.
The watchdog has now issued new guidelines clarifying the risks doctors need to consider before embarking on a romance with a former patient, such as taking into account that some patients can be more vulnerable than others.