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Boundaries in the Practitioner-Patient Relationship

The guideline document, Boundaries in the Practitioner-Patient Relationship was revised last fall and approved by the Board at its meeting on 19 February 2016. The guideline considers the question of when it is appropriate to enter into a practitioner-patient relationship and sets out the ethical obligation of registrants to ensure the treatment is appropriate.

The document – which has been endorsed by both the BCDA and the College – provides guidance to registrants to help recognize conflicts and gives advice on how to resolve these conflicts. Read the joint letter of support (PDF).

Documentation

Boundaries in the Practitioner-Patient Relationship Guideline

We recognize that this is a complex and nuanced topic. To help registrants better understand how the guideline applies to them, we have produced a video with President Tobias and a Q&A document will be published soon.

Key Points

There are three elements that must be in place before providing treatment to any patient:

  1. objectivity of care by the practitioner,
  2. full, free and informed patient consent, and
  3. patient autonomy.

These principles are enshrined in CDSBC’s Code of Ethics. They may be compromised when treating anyone with whom there is such a close personal relationship as to create a conflict of interest. 

Practitioners should exercise care and judgment in:

  • recognizing potential conflicts resulting from close personal relationships,
  • taking appropriate steps to resolve those conflicts when they arise, and
  • declining to provide treatment if a conflict cannot be effectively resolved.