When Patients Try to Seduce Doctors

Leigh Page


October 26, 2016

In This Article

What You Need to Do to Protect Yourself

When a patient tries to seduce you, be direct, Dr Heitt says. Such behavior as leaving panties in the exam room "should cause concern," he says. "If it occurs more than once, it most probably should be addressed with the patient in a direct way that is also tactful and gentle."

Your response has to be unequivocal, Dr Schenthal adds. To let the patient down easy, he says that doctors often make ambiguous statements, such as, "Well, I'd like to go to dinner with you, but I can't because I'm your doctor." This may unintentionally encourage the patient to try again, he says.

Being polite is key, Boreman says. "If you act outraged, the patient might get angry and decide to report a fictitious sexual harassment case with the board, which you would then have to answer," he says. "You don't want the hassle of a complaint."

If a patient displays inappropriate behavior, such as slapping you on the rear, "it is important to take immediate action," Dr Schenthal says. He advises excusing yourself from the room and returning with a chaperone. "Document the event and the actions you took to remain professional in the medical record, in case this is brought in front of the regulatory board," he says.

Dr Schenthal suggests recording the incident in the patient's medical record. The MDU in Great Britain advises[13] doctors to keep a log of all calls and contacts by the patient, and to retain the originals of all letters and gifts, for use as evidence.


"Physicians have to realize they are in a fishbowl," Boreman says. "They should avoid any situations where a potential misperception might tarnish their career."

"This sort of thing can ruin your reputation," he adds. "Why risk it?"


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