By Sophie Borland for the Daily Mail. Doctors are to be allowed to strike up relationships with their former patients. Until now, the watchdog has banned doctors from having relationships with any patients, even those they have not treated for some time. The General Medical Council's new guidelines allow doctors to start relationships with former patients. It states:
Punishing a Doctor-Patient Romance
Considering dating a patient? Refer first
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. However, a number of senior doctors have warned that dating former patients is "flawed" and risks undermining the public's trust in the profession. The guidance, issued yesterday, tells doctors they still cannot initiate 'sexual' or 'improper' relationships with current patients, but says they can date former patients, as long as they give "careful consideration" to certain factors.
When the doctor–patient relationship turns sexual
Simon asked her to lunch because he needed a shoulder to cry on. His girlfriend, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour some time ago, had recently died. During lunch, she told Simon that she had just ended a relationship and joined a dating service.
The decision sparked the ire of medical blogger Dr. Chris Rangel, who noted that the consensual relationship between two adults resulted in more severe penalties than many medical mistakes that actually hurt patients. Among the rest of the disciplinary actions there is the case where a feeding tube was inserted in the wrong patient, a failure to perform an adequate eye exam on a patient with eye trauma, and the failure to meet standards of care in a high risk obstetrical patient, and none of the punishments in these cases came anywhere near what the board dishes out for doctor-patient trysts. A sexual relationship, even a consensual one, between a doctor and their patient is certainly improper. This is not the issue.