Conclusion so obvious

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 July, 1995, 12:00am

DR Mike Rogers was reported recently as indicating that doctors will have affairs with patients, and 'why not', he implies.

All the doctors I have come across have been aware that the community licenses us to investigate all physical and mental processes to enable diagnosis to be achieved and appropriate treatment to be prescribed. Without this access, incorrect diagnosis and inappropriate treatment may be the unfortunate result.

But the cost to doctors and patients is that 'affairs of the heart' are not part of the deal, because the licence would otherwise give doctors an unfair, intrusive advantage, not acceptable and totally irrelevant to the good practice of medicine.

It is also a fact that it is against our code of practice, subject to disciplinary action by our Medical Council, in that we can be 'struck off'.

The fact that it occasionally happens gives no licence to the doctor, nor should it, since it is an abuse of the community's trust. The doctor/patient relationship is a very special one, unlike any other in its function, and cannot be relegated to that of an office relationship, or any other relationship for that matter.

Go to anybody else, other than a duly qualified and licensed medical doctor, and you run the risk of fringe medicine whose practitioners have no convincing training, examination or licence and whose actions are not governed within the parameters of the doctor/patient relationship, its traditional rules and actual regulations.

It is for these reasons that we must continue to expect, as doctors and patients, that 'affairs of the heart' are not on the agenda of diagnosis and treatment, and must never be, if we are to get the answers for our patients accurately.

Finally, Dr Rogers expresses his own view, as I have, and not that of the New Medico-Legal Society since this subject has not yet been discussed by this relatively new society.

Perhaps it was not considered necessary, the conclusion being so obvious.

JAKE O'DONOVAN Council member and joint founder The New Medico-Legal Society