When Patients Try to Seduce Doctors

Leigh Page


October 26, 2016

In This Article

What Kind of Doctor Gets Seduced?

Wanting to help people can make you susceptible to seduction, Dr Schenthal says, adding that this is a common trait of the profession. "Physicians are very good rescuers," he says. "They want to help patients in need."

Rather than go for a particularly beautiful patient, they might prefer a needy person who wants to be rescued, he says. "The patient is going through a divorce, and you are, too," he says. "You try to help them, and that makes you feel appreciated and worthy as a physician."

Doctors who want to be liked can also get into trouble. When a patient signals interest, "they don't like having to say no," Dr Schenthal says.

Physicians who don't notice flirtatious patients can also get into trouble. Because such patients are everywhere, a physician who denies their existence is in many cases simply not paying attention, Dr Schenthal says. When you're unaware, "you're unable to recognize the situation and deal with it," he says.

Burnt-out doctors are particularly at risk. "They feel unappreciated, dissatisfied with the profession," Dr Schenthal says. In addition, they might be going through a divorce, a death in the family, or another personal crisis. "A lonely physician meets a lonely patient, and they start breaking down boundaries," he says.

Which Physicians Are at Risk?

The risk of being seduced also varies according to gender, specialty, and age of the physician.

The more frequent situation is a female patient pursuing a male doctor.

Dr Schenthal says that female physicians may be less likely to get sexually involved with patients, but he adds that some women physicians are very susceptible to needy patients. About one fifth of PBI classes have a female professional in them, he reports.

A diabetes nurse described her seduction by a male patient in a 2015 article[12] on the PCI website. She said the patient, 20 years older than her, invited her to friend him on Facebook, and then they began emailing each other. One day the patient changed his appointment to the end of the day, and they walked out of the office together. He invited her to join him at Starbucks, and they began meeting there on a regular basis.

Next, she wrote, he told her that his wife was out of town and invited her over for dinner. This "led to a night of intimacy—the first of many," she said. Eventually his wife confronted him about all the emails on his cell phone, and they broke off the liaison. The husband and wife filed a lawsuit against the nurse, as well as complaints with the hospital and the state nursing board.

Physicians in certain specialties are more at risk. Because forming sexual ties with patients takes time, Dr Schenthal says it usually involves those who have in longer-term relationships with patients, such as primary care doctors or psychiatrists. In contrast, doctors who have fleeting relationships with patients, such as emergency physicians, are under less risk.

Younger physicians may be less at risk, because they tend to be under close supervision and often work in groups, making it hard to respond to patients' advances, Dr Schenthal says. But physicians in their 40s could potentially face more risk, because they may be encountering a midlife crisis, such as children going away to college, the death of a parent, or burnout, he says.

Physicians in their 60s could be particularly at risk, Dr Schenthal says. If they haven't had to deal with any disciplinary actions, they may let their guard down. "They have a false sense of security that it will never happen to them," he says. They often tell Dr Schenthal, "I never thought it could happen to me."


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