The Physician-Patient Relationship

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The Physician-Patient Relationship
Tahira Duncan
Drexel University


Sexual contact that occurs concurrent with the patient-physician relationship is considered to be sexual misconduct. The Hippocratic Oath prohibits such relationships. The Oath is deeply rooted in first do no harm. By violating beyond the boundaries in a patient-physician relationship it cause harm to the patient.

Boundaries: The limits of appropriate behavior by a professional toward his/her client.
Transference: Of which a patient is usually unaware and/lacking insight into its significance.
Undue Influence: A judicially created defense to transactions that have been imposed upon weak and vulnerable persons that allows the transactions to be
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Patients often don’t know they have been violated usually until after interactions between patient and physician either fail or don’t work out in favor of the patient.

Sexual Misconduct Scenario:
I 've been involved with my physician for a couple of months now. There are a lot of factors which make the relationship wrong - mostly on his side: a huge age gap, his marriage & family, the fact that he 's a doctor. He also knows my father, who is a fellow doctor, and the relationship started right when I practically committed suicide. It might be a stupid question, but did he take advantage? I am fully in my right mind and did not feel abused in any way, but I suppose psychology would show that there must be some part of me that was taken advantage of. We started the relationship and after a few days, it dwindled. Now I feel abandoned and used.

The fact that the patient noted that she was fully in her right mind brings into play informed consent. Can a patient truly give consent to a sexual relationship with their physician? Considering “undue influence” a patient can’t soundly give consent to having sexual intercourse with a doctor. They lack the knowledge due to transference. Next, non-maleficence and beneficence, the Hippocratic Oath teaches, do no harm. There is a great risk to do potential harm to a patient especially by entering into a sexual relationship with them. Much of
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