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Myers, MDProfessor and director, forensic psychiatry program, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa 1.
Richard Martinez, director of forensic psychiatry services at Denver Health Medical Center and the author of several articles on ethical decision-making and the patient/physician relationship, says the AMA was wise to leave a little wiggle room in its opinion. "Every ethical dilemma has to be evaluated and considered on a case-by-case basis." That simple "it's complicated" answer captures the spirit of nearly one third of the respondents' remarks.Similarly, a patient may not even remember the anesthesiologist who presided over his gallbladder surgery or the emergency department doctor who once stitched his finger."I think it depends in part on the type of physician and medical care," says a pediatrician."For example, I would be less concerned about an ophthalmologist getting involved with a patient who has had general yearly visits than I would an internist or oncologist." Likewise, "the fact that you met them as a patient once in an ER, or you cared for them years ago and they are no longer your patient should not be absolute barriers to a relationship if it develops," wrote an obstetrician/gynecologist. Some specialties by their very nature create a more intimate relationship, and one that makes the patient more vulnerable.Recognizing that, the American Psychiatric Association categorically prohibits sexual relationships with either current or former patients. "You definitely have to dissect the relationship," he says.