Baltimore, MD asked in Health Care Law and Medical Malpractice for Maryland

Q: Does a doctor break any laws dating a former patient?

Is there any legally required wait period?

1 Lawyer Answer

Cedulie Renee Laumann

Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: As with many things legal, whether a romantic relationship is legally problematic will depend on the circumstances. Was the doctor pursuing the patient while treating or did the romantic interest arise well after the termination of the doctor/patient relationship? Was the doctor/patient relationship a single visit without dependency or was this a long-term counseling situation? Besides all that, is the doctor in a practice / group with rules about such relationships?

Off the top of the head, one suspects a psychologist/psychiatrist could face some issues if they date someone they saw clinically, even if they terminate the professional relationship to do so. However, a podiatrist who saw a patient once or twice and later bumps into the same person at a dinner party 3 years later probably wouldn't have the same concerns.

Check out the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 9.1.1 In a specific area, one can always call the governing board for clarification. Keep in mind that nothing in this post is legal advice.

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