When A Doctor Sleeps With An Employee

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sex with an employee:

Can a doctor lose his license when he has a sexual relationship with a patient or an employee?

Signed, Would Like Know

Dear Would Like Know:

I expect that you want to know because in one way or another a sexual situation of doctor-patient-employee relationship involves you. Much is available on the Internet on this topic and I’ve copied some of that; however, your question is pretty much a legal matter and our site addresses communication within the workplace, not medical or legal issues.

Medical professionals who get involved sexually with employees are in danger of sexual harassment charges and those who get sexually involved with patients are skating on thin ice whether they practice in Minnesota or Texas. Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature occurring on the job.

The situation that prompts your question in part hinges on whether the “sleeping with an employee” is consensual. And whether a doctor’s license is at risk also depends on the doctor’s organization relationship and its policies.

These are legal matters for which our site does not advise.Regarding a doctor’s sexual relationship with a patient, scan the following excerpts to better understand civil suites that can occur and how the AMA can discipline its members who are found guilty of such: American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states: Sexual contact that occurs concurrent with the patient-physician relationship constitutes sexual misconduct At a minimum, a physician’s ethical duties include terminating the patient-physician relationship before initiating a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship with a patient. (AMA Code of Medical Ethics, E-8.14 )

The AMA holds that sexual contact that occurs while a patient-physician relationship exists is sexual misconduct. One should consider that the patient-physician relationship might still exist for a long period after the doctor stops seeing the patient What constitutes sexual misconduct is not always clear. Sexual Impropriety is “any behavior such as gestures or expressions that are sexually demeaning to a patient, or which demonstrate a lack of respect for the patient’s privacy.

Sexual Transgression is “any inappropriate touching of a patient that is of a sexual nature, short of sexual violation.” Sexual Violation is “physician-patient sex, whether or not initiated by the patient, including, but not limited to, sexual intercourse, masturbation, genital to genital contact, oral to genital contact, oral to anal contact and genital to anal contact.”

Sexual misconduct within the context of ongoing medical treatment or within a professional relationship as long as it exists is prohibited in virtually every instance. In addition, sexual relationships with patients outside medical treatment and/or outside a professional relationship should be approached with extreme caution. Sexual/romantic relationships with former patients are also fraught with risks. For example, the patient may terminate the medical/professional relationship in writing but not emotionally or mentally because of his/her position of vulnerability and dependence on the physician. A sexual relationship with a patient is unethical and may lead to discipline by the TMB, as well as civil damages or criminal prosecution. http://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=4557 This matter is discussed at length on other sites, such as Health Care Organizational Ethics http://healthcareorganizationalethics.blogspot.com/2009/04/doctor-patient-sex.html

My signature close does not directly speak to your query; however, it does speak to the matter of what is an ethical working relationship: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Why? Because it entails interdependent concern for all stakeholders; customers, employees, suppliers, owners and government.

William Gorden