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Inappropriate relationships with doctors are best avoided

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Most people have some kind of relationship with their regular doctors. But such relationships must always have clear boundaries, and should always remain professional. If certain lines are crossed, the relationship becomes something else, and can no longer be defined as a doctor-patient relationship.

Doctors are bound by medical ethics which must be upheld at all times. Patients too are bound by unwritten social norms and behavior. It is thus a two way process that inherently protects the relationship with your doctor from veering off the professional path. But inappropriate social relationships between doctors and their patients are not unheard of. The extreme is when such relationships become sexual.

Professional boundaries can easily be breached. You trust doctors with your health, and share intimate details with them confidentially. Doctors sometimes have reason to medically examine your intimate body organs, with all professional precautions in place to maintain your dignity. But unprofessional behavior can sometimes prevail, allowing odd thoughts to creep into either of you. If pursued, such thoughts can mess up a professional relationship pretty bad.

Who is to blame if relationships get beyond professional limits? Doctors can abuse their privileged positions and make an inappropriate pass on you. It is your duty to resist any such attempts, and remind them of their ethical obligations. You too can initiate an inappropriate relationship in all manner of ways. Your doctor should sense this and stop it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who starts what, the bottom line is that it should never happen.

Once the professional relationship with your doctor becomes blunted, judgments about your health start to get clouded. Your symptoms may not be completely evaluated, and your treatment will likely end up being sub-optimal. You will no longer be seeing your doctor just because you are unwell, but because both of you are craving for something entirely different. You will rapidly descend onto a regrettable path that may eventually ruin your sanity, and your doctor’s career.

Take steps to avoid getting too close to your doctor. Limit your interactions to professional needs, and avoid deliberate social encounters as much as possible. What you have is a relationship built on professional trust and confidentiality. If creepy temptations come along at your doctor’s, remind yourself you are there to seek healthcare, not an amorous adventure.

In equal measure, your doctor must avoid any temptations to lure you into an inappropriate relationship. If they behave in a suggestive manner, walk away and don’t look back. If they persist, remember that you reserve the option of involving medical regulatory authorities. A doctor who falls short in medical ethics can easily lose their practice license.

Both you and your doctor share the responsibility of maintaining a purely professional relationship. Anything else is deplorable, period.

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