Health professionals and patients: the need for appropriate boundaries

The disciplinary proceedings against an Ontario family physician who admitted to showing naked pictures of himself to patients highlights the importance of all health professionals keeping appropriate boundaries with the people they are treating, says Elyse Sunshine.

“While the conduct in this case may seem obviously wrong and shocking, what it highlights for health professionals is that your patients are not your friends,” she tells Advocate Daily.

“Patients see health professionals to receive health care services. They aren’t really interested, nor is it appropriate, for a health professional to share details or pictures of themselves about their personal lives.”

Sunshine says that while the pictures this physician showed to his patients are apparently “quite graphic,” it’s not uncommon for health professionals to “overshare” with the people in their care, and it can lead to problems.

“One has to keep a professional distance from patients,” she says.

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