Rules for doctor-patient intimacy

NOT divulging details of your sex life to patients may seem like common sense, but the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) is now setting out in black and white the first national guidelines on ­doctor-patient intimacy.

Draft guidelines recently sent to practitioners stress the importance of effective communication between doctors and patients but also include “warning signs” that may indicate boundaries are being, or about to be, crossed. 

These include patients requesting non-urgent appointments at unusual hours or locations and doctors revealing personal details “especially personal crises or sexual desires or practices”.

MBA chair Dr Joanna Flynn said while it was perfectly reasonable for doctors to interact with patients in a way “that’s appropriately warm and human”, boundaries needed to be in place. 

A consultation on the draft guidelines is now under way, with submissions due by