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How to maintain professional boundaries with patients

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Medical Licensing

Maintaining professionalism and avoiding misunderstandings in the doctor-patient relationship is paramount for both healthcare providers. Allowing for lines to blur on the boundaries of the relationship can lead to issues that put a doctor’s license in jeopardy.

Luckily, there are some solid tips for maintaining professional boundaries and avoiding situations that could lead to trouble.

Communicate clearly

Establishing clear communication is the cornerstone of fostering a professional doctor-patient relationship. It is essential to communicate openly and transparently about medical concerns and treatment options. However, the conversation must center on the patient’s health.

All communication should strictly relate to medical matters only. Providers need to avoid discussing personal or sensitive topics. They should also refrain from engaging in casual or informal conversations that open the door for misinterpretation.

Maintain physical boundaries

Healthcare professionals should always ensure the utmost respect for the patient’s privacy. It is important that they are comfortable during physical examinations. It can help for a provider to explain procedures beforehand. Obtaining consent is mandatory before touching a patient. Doctors should also encourage patients to communicate any discomfort they may experience during examinations.

Set expectations

Providers must clearly outline the professional nature of the relationship and its boundaries. This must happen at the first appointment.  Doctors must reinforce that the focus is solely on the patient’s health and well-being.

Keep documentation

Healthcare professionals must keep accurate and detailed records. This ensures comprehensive patient care. It also provides a factual account of the professional nature of the relationship, should any misunderstandings arise.

Maintaining professional boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship can stop accusations of wrongdoing. It allows healthcare providers to navigate patient interactions properly. It also helps reduce the risk of misunderstandings that could lead to complaints or accusations to the licensing board.