It may also be unethical and unprofessional for a doctor to enter into a sexual relationship with a former patient, an existing patient’s carer or a close relative of an existing patient, if this breaches the trust the patient placed in the doctor.” But what about relationships with former patients or someone close to a patient?For psychiatrists it is misconduct to enter into a sexual relationship with a former patient even though the treating relationship is no longer on foot .The audits emphasise the importance to specialists of ensuring correct administrative practices with respect to referrals.
Pre-anaesthetic consultations, emergencies and referrals of private patients in hospital are exceptions.
A valid referral must be: It is unlawful to back-date a referral, so referring practitioners should not be asked to do so.
The Medical Board of Australia’s guidelines on sexual boundaries state: “Good medical practice relies on trust between doctors and patients and their families.
It is always unethical and unprofessional for a doctor to breach this trust by entering into a sexual relationship with a patient, regardless of whether the patient has consented to the relationship.
For more information on specialist referrals and initial consultations refer to Avant’s decision-making flowchart.
If you have any specific questions or are requested to complete an audit, it is imperative that you seek advice from our Medico-legal Advisory Service on 1800 126 268 promptly to maximise your opportunity to correct any errors and avoid or reduce administrative penalties. If you are found guilty of professional misconduct due to a boundary violation, penalties can include: Engaging in sexual activity with a patient, making sexual remarks, touching a patient in a sexual way or engaging in sexual behaviour in front of a patient are all sexual misconduct, regardless of whether the patient consents.If another practitioner forms a “reasonable belief” that you have engaged in sexual misconduct, they must report you to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), under mandatory reporting requirements.Having healthy relationships is a key factor in maintaining your health and wellbeing and this includes having good professional relationships with your patients.But be careful that you don’t cross those professional boundaries into more dangerous territory.For other specialty groups a relationship with a former patient may be acceptable depending on factors such as the duration of care provided to the patient, time elapsed since the end of the professional relationship and the degree of dependence and vulnerability of the patient.