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Physician Rights and Responsibilities

Sexual Misconduct

The WSMA has adopted the following guidelines regarding sexual misconduct:

  1. Sexual contact which occurs concurrent with the physician-patient relationship constitutes sexual misconduct. Sexual or romantic interactions between physicians and patients or key third parties detract from the goals of the physician-patient relationship, may exploit the vulnerability of the patient, may obscure the physician's objective judgment concerning the patient's health care, and ultimately may be detrimental to the patient's wellbeing. (Reaffirmed A-17)
  2. If a physician has reason to believe that non-sexual contact with a patient may be perceived as or may lead to sexual contact, then he or she should avoid the non-sexual contact. (Reaffirmed A-17)
  3. At a minimum, the physician's ethical duties include terminating the physician-patient relationship before initiating a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship with a patient or a key third party. (See WAC 246-919-630(4).) (Amended A-17)
  4. Sexual or romantic relationships between a physician and a former patient or key third party may be unduly influenced by the previous physician-patient relationship. Sexual or romantic relationships with former patients or key third parties are unethical if the physician uses or exploits trust, knowledge, emotions, or influence derived from the previous professional relationship. (JC Rpt C, A-94) (Reaffirmed A-17)
  5. Key third parties include, but are not limited to, spouses or partners, parents, siblings, children, guardians, and proxies. (JC Rpt B, A-01) (Reaffirmed A-17)

Return to the WSMA Policy Compendium index

Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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