Sexual Relationships with Patients
The sexual exploitation of patients has been a high-visibility malpractice issue for psychiatrists. In psychiatry the conflict of interest is clear because the patient is by definition at a psychological disadvantage. The conflict is also clear in any situation in which the sexual relations could be termed sexual assault. This includes any sexual relations in a medical care delivery setting with a patient who is not the medical care provider’s spouse. The more common problem is the physician who becomes romantically involved with a nonpsychiatric patient. It is important that the physician not continue providing major medical care for such a patient, and it is preferable that the patient be referred to another physician for all medical treatment.