Like every regular human being, doctors or medical professionals .also have emotions and they also relish good human interaction. However, it must be part of their probity training to understand the moral fences between them and their patients. That is because the social relationship that a doctor might have built with their patient over the course of their medical visits, might not be suitable for the patient and the doctor as well.
Sadly, the fine line between a good professional relationship and an unsuitable doctor-patient bond is very blurry and therefore it is getting harder and harder to identify. Therefore there lies a dire need for medical ethics training.
To make matters easier for you, we have outlined some aspects that are appropriate and normal for you to have a decent relationship with your patient and vice versa.
Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc are no longer the sites that are considered to be a trend. They have integrated into our lives in such a way that today it has also become impossible for someone to not be on social media sites. As matter of fact, professional people have started using them to provide their expertise and services.
However, this also poses a serious danger to a professional patient-doctor-relationship, because now you can know more about your patient or doctor than you need. It is one of the chief examples that blur the boundaries.
If you are a patient, no matter how much you admire your doctor you should refrain from reaching out to them on social unless it is their professional accounts. That is because as soon your friend request gets accepted by your doctor, you would gradually stop seeing them as a well-intentioned authoritative figure who is just concerned about your health. You would see how your doctor interacts with their family and friends, what kind of people are they more drawn to and what kinds of general opinions they keep dear.
Although it is recommended for doctors to be emphatic with their patients, safe distance is extremely imperative for both actual and virtual life.
It is not only acceptable but vehemently encouraged to build a strong and safe rapport with your current patients because it helps the doctor and the patient to voice their thoughts with considerable ease. However, when this good-hearted friendliness turns into an actual friendship, things are bound to a downward spiral.
First off, your role as somebody’s health provider demands you to be truthful and objective with your patient as much as you possibly can. Since the emotions and the thoughts come in between while you are dealing with the patient you have befriended, your sensibility might be at risk.
Since medical ethics courses teach you to navigate emotional engagement with your patient, every medical professional should consider taking it. Otherwise, doctors can put their sensibility and thus the lives of other patients at risk because they would be worrying too much about their friend’s recovery.
Since pursuing any kind of personal relationship with your current patient is wrong, there no solid justification for you to befriend your former patient.
In every patient-doctor relationship, there is an evident power imbalance because the patient is in a vulnerable state and the doctor is in the power position. So, it is a patient who places their trust in a doctor in hopes of getting cured and reveals personal information about themselves. If the doctor is not strictly professional they might use that information against the patient’s advantage.
To put it all in a nutshell, a doctor or any professional caregiver should never allow their social relationship to become a priority over their therapeutic relationships. Also, a relationship that is closer than necessary can impair your clinical judgments, so always be aware of blurred lines.