Doctors have been warned not to respond to amorous approaches from patients on social networking sites because it may be seen as overstepping the professional boundary of the doctor/patient relationship.
The warning was raised by the Medical Defence Union (MDU), which said it was aware of a number of cases where patients had attempted to proposition doctors by sending them an unsolicited message on Facebook or similar sites.
The medical defence organisation said one female GP was asked out for a drink by a patient as she left her surgery. When she declined, the patient began pestering her via Facebook and sent her a bouquet of her favourite flowers – information he has gleaned from her freely available Facebook page.
Dr Emma Cuzner, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: “Some doctors have told the MDU they feel it would be rude not to reply, if only to politely refuse, but given that this is not a professional route of communication, any correspondence of this sort would clearly stray outside the doctor/patient relationship.
“We are advising our members about the importance of keeping relationships with patients on a professional footing. This is in line with doctors’ ethical duties not to pursue improper relationships with patients. Doctors could face a GMC investigation if they are accused of overstepping the boundary.”