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Question of ethics over doctor-patient sexual liaison

Question of ethics over doctor-patient sexual liaison

Even as the recent report of a west Delhi based doctor getting captured in a honeytrap is doing rounds in the medical community; the question of basic ethics is already being challenged by few experts in this case. According to an opinion shared in the Times of India report, this particular case has opened the point of discussion weather such news should be dealt with sympathy-as the doctor is a sexual victim- as opposed to the fact this doctor has himself invited trouble by violating the professional standards, and indulging in unethical behavior.

In lieu of the fundamentals of the medical ethics, any kind of sexual liaison is strictly prohibited between the doctor and the patient. Factually, even during the medical oath taken by the doctor at the beginning of his career there is clear clause to the effect. As per the oath, it clearly states that a willingness to refrain from “any act of seduction, male or female” is to be sworn in by the doctor.

On the contrary, there has been unreported romance booming in many corridors in India. Even a doctor commenting on this case has earlier admitted to TOI that such romantic relationships are not at all rare.

However, the western nations hold a strong view that even a consensual relationship between the doctor and the patient is not acceptable, as the patient is always perceived in a vulnerable position because of the complex relationship with the doctors; who in turn is considered to be dominating in such cases.

Another doctor revealed, “The wife of my friend, a senior doctor, used to be his patient. They fell in love during the treatment period.” As humans, doctors may be emotional beings susceptible to normal human longings, yet doctors are enjoined to ensure a very formal relationship with patients. Adultery involving a patient or “improper conduct” with a patient is liable for disciplinary action under the Indian Medical Council Act, says Dr KK Aggarwal, secretary general, Indian Medical Association (IMA). “This should be followed in letter and spirit,” he emphasises.

Not surprisingly, medical bodies take a dim view of any aberrations in the prescribed sterile relationship between doctors and patients. “The doctor who claims he has been honey-trapped by a young woman patient is at fault,” states Dr Girish Tyagi, registrar of the Delhi Medical Council. “How could he have got into a relationship with a patient?” The issue is not simply about the moral dimension of a sexual relationship. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has noted that sexual or romantic interactions between doctors and patients are heavily loaded with the potential to obscure the physician’s objective judgement concerning the patient’s health and treatment. In fact, in consideration of an ailing person’s mental make-up, doctors, particularly those specialising in mental health, are advised to not initiate sexual and romantic relationships even with former patients.

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    Source: with inputs from Times of India

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