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Improper liaisons with patients leap 60%

By Alisdair Stirling

The numbers of doctors struck off for having improper relationships with patients has risen sharply, new figures from the GMC show.

Improper relations with patients are now the most common allegation leading to erasure from the medical register – overtaking purely clinical issues. Some eight doctors were struck off for improper relations with patients in 2009 compared to only five in 2008.

The rise has prompted the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland to warn doctors not to get too close to patients.

Dr Barry Parker, medical adviser at MDDUS said: ‘It is perhaps not surprising that emotional attachments may develop in the context of a doctor patient relationship.

‘Patients look to their doctors for support and help, sometimes during very difficult times in their lives – and this may encourage emotional reactions on both sides.

‘However, it is the doctor’s professional duty to deal appropriately with these emotions and make sure that no improper relationship develops as a consequence of them.’

Improper liaisons with patients double