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Although a retired doctor can’t commit malpractice in the strictest sense, a relationship between a former patient and a former doctor still raises a number of legal and ethical issues.
While concern focused originally on relationships between patients and psychiatrists, it is now generally recognized that the problem extends to non-psychiatric physicians as well. Suppose a state medical board seeks to discipline a physician for having an affair with a patient, but both the patient and the physician insist that the patient consented to the relationship. In an article in JAMA announcing the policy, the Council rejected the position that sexual relationships should be permitted with the patient's consent on the ground that "the relative position of the patient within the professional relationship is such that it is difficult for the patient to give meaningful consent to such behavior." It is interesting that the AMA categorically condemns sexual relationships to which patients allegedly consent.Yes, romantic or sexual relationships with patients can be malpractice for medical practitioners.The balance of power in the professional relationship between a doctor or therapist and a patient makes a sexual relationship highly suspect and unethical.It is very easy for a patient to mistake appreciation for love, and transfer feelings of respect and gratitude into the context of a romantic or sexual relationship.Generally, it is malpractice for a doctor to engage in a sexual or romantic relationship with current OR former patients.
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Once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor has a duty of care to the patient.