Ever since the Hippocrates Oath came into being, medical ethics have been upheld as an important part of the behavior of doctors in a community.
And one of the most significant aspects of this code of ethics regulating the medical community is the relationship between a doctor and patient.
Almost all civil societies of the world uphold that the first and foremost responsibility of a doctor is to the patient’s wellbeing.
Almost all developed societies prohibit any romantic or sexual relationship between a doctor and a current patient.
The American Medical Association is unequivocal about this and under its Code of Medical Ethics 8.14, notes that, “Sexual contact that occurs concurrent with the patient-physician relationship constitutes sexual misconduct”.
Likewise the British Medical Association advises: "As a general principle, sexual relationships or emotional dependence between doctors and their patients or the close relatives of patients must be discouraged." It further goes on to say that “Doctors who discover that a person with whom they are developing a personal or sexual relationship is also their patient should immediately cease the relationship or take reasonable steps to ensure that medical care is provided by another practitioner." There are several important reasons why doctor-patient dating or a romantic relationship is discouraged in most societies.
For one, the doctor is in a position of power over the patient.
By virtue of their education and training, doctors are armed with the knowledge of what is wrong with a patient and how to treat him/her.
In such a case if a doctor becomes romantically interested in a patient, he/she may succumb to the temptation of using his/her medical knowledge to advance his/her romantic aspirations and not necessarily in a positive manner.Also when a patient comes to a physician, most likely the former is ill and thus vulnerable to whatever the doctor says or tells him/her to do.When a person’s physical and mental faculties are thus compromised, any relationship entered into is usually not from a position of strength and equality but rather weakness and vulnerability.Among the strongest arguments against a current doctor-patient romantic relationship is the possibility of a physician’s professional judgement being compromised.When a doctor is romantically involved with a patient, it is extremely likely that the former’s emotions may thwart his/her objectivity and professional prudence.Thus a doctor may be motivated to treat or withhold treatment to his/her patient in a way which is not entirely in the latter’s interest.