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Such a relationship may be unethical if the doctor has used any power imbalance, knowledge or influence obtained as the patient’s doctor.
When deciding whether a doctor used the doctor-patient relationship to engage in a sexual relationship with an individual close to the patient, the Board will consider a range of factors including: A physical examination is an important part of the medical consultation.
Patients need to trust that their doctor will act in their best interests, treat them professionally, not breach their privacy and never take advantage of them.
Exploitation of the doctor-patient relationship undermines the trust that patients have in their doctors and the community has in the profession.
AHPRA will advise and support notifiers2 Notifier/s means a person who has made a notification (complaint) to AHPRA about the alleged conduct of a health practitioner. There is no place for sex in the doctor-patient relationship, either in the guise of a ‘consensual’ sexual relationship, or in the form of sexualised comments or behaviour, or indecent or sexual assault.
Good medical practice includes: Doctors are expected to act in their patient’s best interests and not use their position of power and trust to exploit patients physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically.
Breaching sexual boundaries is always unethical and usually harmful for many reasons including: There is a wide range of behaviours that breach sexual boundaries, from making unnecessary comments about a patient’s body or clothing, to criminal behaviour such as sexual assault.
It can provide valuable information to assist in the diagnosis of patients.
However, physical examinations should be clinically warranted.
Sexual misconduct is an abuse of the doctor-patient relationship.