Does consensual doctor-patient sex actually harm the public?

When it comes to disciplinary action, Texas punishes doctors who engage in consensual sex with patients seriously.

Hospitalist Chris Rangel says they’re going overboard.

Consider the cited case, where a doctor who had consensual sex was given a harsher penalty than physicians who were negligent and actually harmed patients.

“A sexual relationship, even a consensual one, between a doctor and their patient is certainly improper,” writes Dr. Rangel. “This is not the issue. Rather, the problem is with the bizarre set of priories that the Texas Medical Board has developed over the last few years in which they have focused more and more on unprofessional conduct violations involving sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll esp. in cases where the harm or potential harm to the public was none or minimal.”

Are they going too far? And, I wonder, how do their punishments compare with those of other states?

Or, as Dr. Rangel writes, is this excessive moralizing simply a “red state” phenomenon?

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  • feminizedwesternmale

    Red state phenom. That made me chuckle. Right. Like a photographer not choosing to take the pictures of a lesbian “wedding,” and then getting hauled up to a state civil rights board and getting fined into oblivion (hello, “malpractice”?). Just a function of right-wing Christian-fascism.

    Cross The State holy statutes (which are no longer tethered to any semblance of morality) and the book will be thrown at you. If the male doc had the foresight to enter a relationship with a male patient, I promise you there wouldn’t be a puff of smoke. Heck, the State Bored would’ve been jubilant about the chance of becoming ushers at the “wedding.”

  • philanthropos fogg

    The rules were written at a time when societal mores were different. Nonetheless, I believe that even if the relationship is consensual, it can still be damaging insofar as it affects the reputation of the doctor and the profession as a whole.

    While it will never be possible to prevent two people from being attracted to each other, it would be prudent for a doctor to encourage a patient to see another doctor if they start dating.

  • Anonymous

    There’s something bizarre about the Texas medical board. They’ve been sued and as I recall a number of members of the Board were shown the door.

  • Anonymous

    Of interest, there is no similar ban on attorney-client sex. Not all Bar associations ban it, some try to make the distinction of whether the sex interfered with the legal matter at hand.

    http://static.mgnetwork.com/tri/media_path/-temp/SexwithClientsWestlaw_Document.doc

    http://www.tricities.com/tri/news/local/article/va._tenn._among_states_with_no_attorney-client_sexual_relations_ban/21737/

    The floor is open to double-enterdres…….

  • Norman

    Any male doctor that has sex with a female patient is nuts. Even if it’ consensual, when the inevitable break up occurs the woman will claim she was used, taken advantage of etc. However, this does not pertain to female docs and male patients. In that case it would definitely be the male patients fault. He took advantage of an overly stressed female doctor to satisfy his own lust. As far a attorneys having sex with their clients, whats new with that. They have been screwing their clients for years.

  • http://davidbeharmdejd.blogspot.com David Behar, M.D.

    I suggested that Hippocrates did not want doctors to have sex even with slave patients because doctors are entrusted with the body. We do not care if a bank clerk has sex with a customer, but get upset if she borrows money from her till. Without trust of the bank with money, the banking business must close. The same is true of the trust of the doctor with the body. Allowing sex with patients may deter some self-referrals or some family referrals for care.

    An appellate court disagreed with me.

    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1088439688811

    Prof. Volokh discusses, in a series of posts, how the rule against sex with patients may violate the Lawrence v Texas Supreme Court decision,

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/federation/feature/?id=110009568

    and here,

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_01_14-2007_01_20.shtml#1169250598

    I am a libertarian and oppose over-reaching by government. However, I disagree with Prof. Volokh. I believe such rules have a rational basis and a compelling government interest. Such a rule allows patient certainty that entrustment of the body of themselves or their family members will not be used for the sexual gratification of the doctor. That is analogous to having employees of a bank not be allowed to fool with money deposited there for their personal gratification, such as to gamble or to go on a shopping spree.

  • Mick Mankford

    Doctors should be busy healing patients, not having sex. No wonder this country is in a medical crisis.

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