Hospital Romances: What to Do About Them?
The ethical and professional goal in a doctor-patient relationship is directed toward attaining the benefit for the patient. The goal of a hospital attending to the care of patients should be the same. There are many factors that can interfere with meeting that goal. One interesting issue is one related to the interaction between two professionals who work in the hospital but who develop a romantic relationship with each other. If you watch the TV dramas about hospital life, it seems that such romantic relationships appear frequently and almost as frequently as those dramatic critical medical emergencies.
But as with other employment environments, such relationships between two individuals who are working together particularly under stressful conditions is not unpredictable. The question is whether a hospital should tolerate the development of such relationships which may lead to progression along with distractions to patient care or if the relationship ends with one of the parties hurting, similar distraction might be expected. In addition issues of sexual abuse can occur along with discrimination in the workplace, particularly if one of the couples is an administrative or professional superior to the other or to other professionals in the hospital.
How should hospitals ethically and legally handle the issue of romance, particularly between professionals within the hospital workplace? Is it practical and realistic for a hospital administration set a zero-tolerance policy to such romantic relationships? What should be the hospital’s response to such relationships?
This subject is discussed in an interesting clinical cases discussion in the January 2010 issue of the American Medical Association’s Virtual Mentor titled “Zero Tolerance for Hospital Romance”. Go to the link, read the discussion and return here with your view of a fair and realistic response for a hospital to make. ..Maurice.