A Continuing Education Course For Physicians Who Cross Sexual Boundaries

Spickard A, Swiggart W,  Manley G, Dodd, D. A Continuing Education Course for Physicians Who Cross Sexual Boundaries. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 2002;9:33-42.

Anderson Spickard, Jr., M.D., William H. Swiggart, M.S.,
Ginger Manley, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.S., David Dodd, M.D.
The Center for Professional Health
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Contact Information:

Anderson Spickard, Jr., M.D.
The Center for Professional Health
Vanderbilt Medical Center
1107 Oxford House
Nashville, TN 37232-4300
Telephone:      615/936-0678
Fax:        615/936-0676
E-mail:   Anderson.spickard-jr@vanderbilt.edu


Professional sexual boundary violations are the subject of major interest in professional and lay literature, calling attention to the special hazard of sexual relationships between persons in positions of authority over others. (Guthiel, 1993; Irons and Schneider, 1994; Overlock, 1996; Rutter, 1998, 1999; Morris, 1999). These publications emphasize the special risks to physicians who cross sexual boundaries with patients and staff and cause serious risk management issues for themselves and their practice. Long before the current publicity about this subject the problem of physicians violating professional boundaries was addressed in the report of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association in 1991(AMA 1991). These ethical standards state that: 1) sexual contact or a romantic relationship concurrent with the physician-patient relationship is unethical, 2) sexual contact or a romantic relationship with a former patient may be unethical under certain circumstances, 3) education on the ethical issues involved in sexual misconduct should be included throughout all levels of medical training and 4) in the case of sexual misconduct, reporting of offending colleagues is especially important. Winn has described the increase in incidence of problems of boundary violations as seen by the state medical boards. (Winn, 1993)