Originally posted 10 Dec 20
Here is an excerpt:
Not surprisingly, those who have seen such relationships end in messy, contentious divorces or who know stories of punitive actions are stridently opposed to the idea. "Never! Grounds for losing your license"; "it could only result in trouble"; "better to keep this absolute"; "you're asking for a horror story," wrote four male physicians.
Although doctor-patient romances don't frequently come to the attention of medical boards or courts until they have soured, even "happy ending" relationships may come at a cost. For example, in 2017, the Iowa Board of Medicine fined an orthopedic surgeon $5000 and ordered him to complete a professional boundaries program because he became involved with a patient while or soon after providing care, despite the fact that the couple had subsequently married.
Ethics aside, "this is a very dangerous situation, socially and professionally," writes a male physician in Pennsylvania. A New York physician agreed: "Many of my colleagues marry their patients, even after they do surgery on them. It's a sticky situation."
Doctors' Attitudes Are Shifting
The American Medical Association clearly states that sexual contact that is concurrent with the doctor/patient relationship constitutes sexual misconduct and that even a romance with a former patient "may be unduly influenced by the previous physician-patient relationship."
Although doctors' attitudes on the subject are evolving, that's not to say they suddenly believe they can start asking their patients out to dinner. Very few doctors (2%) condone romantic relationships with existing patients — a percentage that has remained largely unchanged over the past 10 years. Instead, physicians are taking a more nuanced approach to the issue.