At a meeting of the Canadian Bar Association, the attendees voted against official censure of any member who participated in a sexual relationship with a client. The thinking apparently is that there is a far different potential power differential between lawyers and clients than there is between physicians and patients. This approach is somewhat different than that of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC CPSBC and their affiliates around the country as they collectively have made it clear that there is no wiggle room for physicians who enter into a sexual relationship with a past or present patient. The one-physician town has been trotted out many times as a possible exception to this universal proclamation. Disagreeing physicians continue to argue that where the town doc sees everyone in the town professionally at some point there seems to be little thought given to the kind or number of professional interactions between the physician and the patient.
E ditor —In his personal view Barrett shared the sadly far too common scenario of a patient's sexual needs being overlooked and unfairly judged. Yet staff in primary and secondary care are not adequately trained in issues surrounding sexual intercourse, particularly interpersonal relationships, awareness, and respect of sexual difference. They also lack the confidence to communicate comfortably on sensitive topics. Unsurprisingly they either avoid discussion of the issue or do not handle it well. Healthcare practitioners should be able to deliver sex information ranging from advising on sexually transmitted infections or sexual dysfunctions to helping people for whom sexual contact is difficult or who may have missed out on sex education. This does not mean that they have to book their patients a prostitute or conduct a sex education class, but they should know where to refer them. Training of health professionals needs to be improved to include awareness of sex related issues beyond management of sexual disease.
Male patients who identified as gay or bisexual were more likely to have discussions with their clinicians about sex compared with patients who identified as straight, a researcher reported. Healthcare providers asked a higher proportion of patients who identified as bisexual or homosexual, compared with those who identified as heterosexual, about how many sexual partners they had, about sexual orientation and activity, and about condom use, reported Jenna Reich, a medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues. Patients who were homosexual were also more likely to be tested, diagnosed, or treated for a sexually transmitted infection STI within the last year, Reich said in a presentation at the Sexual Medicine Society of North America virtual meeting. Amy Pearlman, MD, of the University of Iowa Healthcare in Iowa City, who was not involved with the study, told MedPage Today that while it's interesting to see that people who identify as gay or homosexual are asked more about sex, she was not surprised.
And when it does, patients need to take some moral responsibility for their actions. Any doctor caught ignoring this rule is likely to face professional sanction — including being struck off. And it may not end there.