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If the patient and physician, for example, have discovered a yen for each other, what kind of relationship are they permitted to engage in while waiting for the mandatory period to expire?In any event, the AMA rejects this idea, citing research that shows that patients continue to have strong feelings about psychotherapists for five to ten years after the therapeutic relationship ends.Building relationships of trust with patients is fundamental to ethical practice in medicine.The relationship between a patient and a physician is based on trust, which gives rise to physicians’ ethical responsibility to place patients’ welfare above the physician’s own self-interest.Sexual relationships with patients are problematic, not only because they may be unethical and may compromise patient care, but because they may lead to civil actions for damages, criminal actions, and disciplinary proceedings by state medical boards. Consent is not a defense to a charge of statutory rape or sexual imposition on a minor. The American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs states categorically that "[s]exual contact that occurs concurrent with the physician-patient relationship constitutes sexual misconduct" (Opinion 8.14).
Perhaps it would be too expensive or time-consuming to scrutinize the propriety of these relationships and the effectiveness of consent on a case-by-case basis.
For example, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld maximum age limits for police officers against the challenge that they violate the Constitution by depriving the officers of the ability to show that they in fact are physically capable of doing the job past the age cut-off.
Or perhaps the AMA feels that there simply are no circumstances in which a patient could give valid consent.
But the AMA takes the position that ending the professional relationship may not be enough: a relationship still may violate professional ethics "if the sexual contact occurred as a result of the use or exploitation of trust, knowledge, influence, or emotions derived from the former professional relationship." When would this be the case?
The only other guidance that the AMA gives is of little help: Relationships between patients and...