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GPs should decline Valentine's Day gifts and cards, say legal advisers

Medico-legal advisers say GPs should decline offers of Valentine's Day gifts or cards from their patients.

Medical Protection said this comes as around one in ten doctors have been put in this situation in the past.

In all, 336 GPs and consultants in the UK responded to a survey by Medical Protection from 9-12 February 2017. Of these 9.23% said they had received a Valentine’s Day card or gift during their careers.

Medical Protection advised that whilst on a regular day of the year doctors should consider the appropriateness of the card or gift, its value and potential impact on the doctor-patient relationship, on 14 February they should take more stringent care.

Dr Helen Hartley, medico-legal adviser at Medical Protection, said: 'Doctors can often be offered cards and small gifts from patients as tokens of gratitude for the care they have received... But a gift or card on Valentine’s Day - while it may still be innocent - makes things more complicated and potentially embarrassing.

'We all know a Valentine’s Day card or gift, while sometimes anonymous, is usually an expression of someone’s affection, or romantic - even passionate - feelings.

'This is obviously not an appropriate basis for a doctor patient relationship, and doctors who find they are the object of a patient’s affection should take care to avoid any action that could be seen to encourage the patient.'

She said that 'where appropriate doctors should politely decline a Valentine’s Day card or gift' and also 'adopt a more formal manner and remind patients of their duty as their doctor and the professional boundaries that must be protected in order for the patient to receive quality, impartial care'.

The conversation 'can be documented and discussed with a colleague, including whether care should be transferred to another doctor if there are further advances', she added.

Medical Protection further suggested the GP should consider whether the advances from the patient is a symptom of mental health problems, loneliness and poor relationships and whether they could be in need of psychiatric support.

Readers' comments (8)

  • I can't believe this is happening??
    I am more worried about the risk of being attacked in the current climate.

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  • While I agree with the gist of this, the last paragraph made me chuckle. As a GP I know I am a useless piece of sh#t and obviously anyone who is attracted to me must be mentally deranged. My self-esteem has been lowered so dramatically in the past couple of years that it is beyond the reach of the most elaborate colouring book to fix.

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  • Dear IDGAF
    Would a Kama Sutra colouring book help ease your distress?(although please be wary if this comes from either a patient or your free loving College)

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  • So can we use Valentine's cards in lieu of multi-source feedback then?

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  • In the highly unlikely event If I receive a valentine card today, I am keep it.
    Bite me.

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  • Do people get this? I've not had a single valentine wish, never mind a card and pressie. Best I get is reminder from my patients to go and see my family at 6pm as it's valentine!

    I must try and put a nicer aftershave........

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  • I knew that being short and ugly would come good for me one day. Delighted to say I've never received one of these!

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  • GPs also warned not to accept pancakes from patients on pancake day, and to shun any gifts of cream eggs over Easter says Lawyer. Special dispensation allowed for gifts of cardigans (no tank tops)

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