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Such a relationship may be unethical if the doctor has used any power imbalance, knowledge or influence obtained as the patient’s doctor.
When deciding whether a doctor used the doctor-patient relationship to engage in a sexual relationship with an individual close to the patient, the Board will consider a range of factors including: A physical examination is an important part of the medical consultation.
Warning signs include but are not limited to: If a doctor senses any of these warning signs, or if a patient talks about or displays inappropriate feelings towards a doctor or exhibits sexual behaviour, the doctor should consider whether this is interfering with the patient’s care and/or placing the doctor or the patient at risk.
In these situations, the doctor should try to constructively re-establish professional boundaries and seek advice from an experienced and trusted colleague or their professional indemnity insurer about how to best manage the situation.
Good medical practice involves ‘never using your professional relationship to establish or pursue a sexual, exploitative or other inappropriate relationship with anybody under your care.
This includes those close to the patient such as their carer, guardian or spouse or the parent of a child patient.
The individual close to the patient also relies on the doctor and trusts that the doctor is acting in the best interests of the patient.
Patients have a right to feel safe when they are consulting a doctor.These guidelines complement ‘Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia’ (Good medical practice).Good medical practice describes what the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) expects of all doctors who are registered to practise medicine in Australia.An unwarranted physical examination may constitute sexual assault.This includes conducting or allowing others, such as students, to conduct examinations on anaesthetised patients, when the patient has not given explicit consent for the examination.
A doctor should consider carefully whether they could be exploiting the trust, knowledge and dependence that developed during the doctor-patient relationship before they decide whether to pursue or engage in a relationship with a former patient.