August 7, 2014


Hi Jennifer,

If I want to date an old patient, not seen as a patient since 2010 or 2011, do I have anything to be concerned about?  
Thanks, Dr. B

Well doc, depends on your specialty, the nature of your relationship and a number of other factors whether a romantic relationship would be inappropriate.  The relevant opinion offered by the AMA on this topic is available here - and does serve to offer specific guidance stating 

"Sexual or romantic relationships between a physician and a former patient may be unduly influenced by the previous physician-patient relationship. Sexual or romantic relationships with former patients are unethical if the physician uses or exploits trust, knowledge, emotions, or influence derived from the previous professional relationship." 

My advice, use your best judgment.  If you are mental health professional and treated this individual for any real period of time, probably best to abstain.  If you are a podiatrist and fixed a bunion in 2011, you are likely okay to schedule that first date.  

Good luck! 

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