New AMA guidelines for sexual boundaries with patients

9 May 2019

The AMA has updated the guidelines for doctors on maintaining sexual boundaries with patients. The guidelines include new provisions for interacting over social media and now incorporates conduct of patient examinations.

"Doctors have an ethical and legal duty to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with patients,” AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said.

“These revised Guidelines acknowledge the potential power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship, and how the very personal and physical nature of the relationship may lead to patients feeling vulnerable and exposed.

“When patients seek care, they may be sick, injured, anxious, and distressed. They may be asked to undergo a physical examination, which may cause discomfort or embarrassment, or they may be asked to provide very personal and sensitive information about their health and lifestyle, or relevant information about their family members.

“It is essential that doctors adhere to very strict professional boundaries to ensure that patients feel comfortable and safe when seeking medical care."

The Guidelines are consistent with the Medical Board of Australia’s Guidelines: Sexual Boundaries in the Doctor-Patient Relationship.

Read the Guidelines on Maintaining Clear Sexual Boundaries Between Doctors and Patients and the Conduct of Patient Examinations.

The full media release is available here.