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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.
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.
In some cases, such as when they are the parent of a child patient, they may make decisions on behalf of the patient about their healthcare.
It may be unethical and unprofessional for a doctor to engage in a sexual relationship with a former patient, if this breaches the trust the patient placed in the doctor.
Doctors should recognise the influence they have had on patients and that a power imbalance could continue long after the professional relationship has ended.
Sexual misconduct is a serious abuse of that trust.
Patients have a right to feel safe when they are consulting a doctor.