The Sexually Seductive Patient: How Should Doctors React?
On my other threads on patient modesty and why doctors are hated, there is much concern and worry about sexually seductive doctors. Such concerns are warrented even though I am sure most doctors will treat patients professionally and keep to the professional and legal boundaries of behavior. However, physicians have their own concerns. One of their concerns is the behavior that the patient will bring into the office. There are the angry, disruptive and frankly belligerant patients. Medical students are taught to expect such patients and to react by trying to understand what is motivating these patients to these behaviors since such understanding may provide a therapeutic approach rather than the physician simply reflecting anger back to the patient. One of the more subtle and difficult patient behaviors for physicians to deal with is the sexually seductive patient. Such a patient, often a female relating to a male physician enters with the expression of obvious greater attention and interest with respect to the physician's personality and appearance than true concern about her own symptoms. Her actions may be sexually provocative. The patient may expose her body to the physician during the interview or exam to an extent which is clinically unnecessary. Female physicians are not free of seductive male patients.
Psychologists explain these patients' behavior as expressions of transference--where psychologic unmet needs are attempted to be met by engaging physicians who seem to resemble and reflect critical persons in the patients' emotional life. Of concern is the issue of counter-transference--where the physician may respond to this situation in a manner to support the physician's unmet needs based on the physician's emotional life. This can lead to physicians responding to the seductive patient in a manner beyond the professional boundaries of sexual attention.
How should physicians react to the seductive patient? Should they consider the patient has a psychologic or psychiatric problem in addition to their other disease and seek out evaluation, patient education and treatment for this disorder? Or should the doctor go ballistic and spell out the established rules of further behavior? Medical schools find that the need to educate students regarding how to deal with the seductive patient an important topic. I would like to read the views of my visitors on the subject of the seductive patient and what they think would be the very best approach to deal with the issue if it arises. One point I don't want to read from my visitors is that there is no such person as a sexually seductive patient or that the way patients behave is simply a reflection of the doctor's unprofessional behavior at the onset of the relationship. You have to be in medical practice yourself to see that this conclusion applied to all is not true! ..Maurice.