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Practice dilemma: Admin worker's affair with patient

What should you do with an angry patient after a member of your administrative staff in your practice is found having an affair with her husband?

What should you do with an angry patient after a member of your administrative staff in your practice is found having an affair with her husband?

An admin worker within your medical practice is having an affair with a male patient. The patient's wife is also a patient at the same practice and is furious when she discovers her husband's infidelity.

She complains to the practice manager and raises concerns over the confidentiality of her personal details and medical records, to which the admin worker has access. She also demands the admin worker be dismissed or, at the very least, disciplined and denied all access to her personal records.

Your practice values the admin worker highly and do not want to terminate her employment but is unsure how to respond to the complaints.

The practice manager should assess whether limiting the admin worker's access to the patient's wife's records would be practically possible. If so, the practice should write to the complainant suggesting this course of action.

If this isn't possible, the complainant should be advised of this along with her right to register with another practice.

Not being a healthcare professional, the admin worker is not bound by the same code of professional conduct as, for example, doctors would be as members of the GMC. Disciplining her would have to be undertaken in line with the terms and conditions stated in her contract of employment.

Dismissing the worker would only be an option if her behaviour amounted to ‘gross misconduct' as defined in her contract.

Dr Anthea Martin is senior medical adviser for the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Dr Anthea Martin is senior medical adviser for the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland Dr Anthea Martin is senior medical adviser for the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

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