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Old 10-26-2006, 11:46 AM   #1
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sunshine0806 HB User
Question The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Since I'm not in the medical profession, I'm not sure what is considered to be appropriate behavior from a physician, and what is not. I know that it is a little different than some professional relationships, but is still a professional relationship. I'm looking for some input on my situation, and maybe there are some people here employed in the medical field that can offer insight.

I started going to my current doctor a few years ago. I had only gone to two other doctors at that point - a pediatrition, and a doctor who treated me in late teens - I couldn't stand the latter, and I started going to the clinic where my doctor works. I was 20 years old at the time. I rarely went to the doctor until this time, but I became slightly underweight and have seemed to get sick more easily since then. The first time I went to him was for mono. I later had complications from that, so I had a few repeat visits. He made a couple comments that I didn't think much of at the time - he asked if I was in a relationship. I said no, not currently, and he said, well, that's surprising... He told me I was attractive sometime during the course of these visits, but I forget what context it was said in or how it came up. He's not the only doctor in the clinic I go to, though is recorded as my doctor - most have fewer patients than he does, so I can get in to see them easier. So, in the past couple of years, I've only been in to see him once or twice. I've been living out of town, only went to the doctor when I needed to, and saw other doctors who could fit me into the schedule easier.

I've recently gone through a tough time - several bad events have happened that have left me stressed and anxious. I went in to my doctor for this. We talked about what's been going on, and also talked about anti-depressants. He mentioned he was going through a divorce, it's been rough, and he's been taking anti-depressants for it. I was kind of upset through part of the conversation because it's tough to go over this stuff, and I rarely discuss it with anyone. He says I'll get through it, I'm young and attractive, and have a lot to be happy about, etc. Near the end of the appt., he told me to give him a hug. I did, though I felt a little awkward about it. It wasn't a quick hug, either - we held each other for a long time - but, I have been seeking affection lately, I guess. Normally, I'd have pulled away after a few seconds. It's not that I felt uncomfortable with it, but I'm a little... confused. Granted I'm not really a warm and affectionate person, and he is my doctor, but I haven't been going to him for a long time and it's not like we had built any kind of relationship. I had gone to him when I felt depressed this time last year, and was upset then too, but no hugging or anything happened. I'm also not sure how the doctor/patient relationship works, and this is the only doctor I've gone to for depression type issues. I mentioned to my mom that he'd said he was divorced because she was talking about how he's always at the clinic. She thought it was strange that he'd bring that up. I said given the context, I don't think it was weird. Plus, I know from working in the legal field that malpractice suits are something doctors are increasingly aware of, and I doubt my doctor would do anything intentionally to cross the line. But, I don't know, when I was leaving the office, it was awkward. He seemed bothered or something. I'm supposed to go back in to see him soon is why I'm thinking of this now. What do you think? Am I making too much of it, would you feel uncomfy in this situation?

 
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Old 10-26-2006, 12:13 PM   #2
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galinaqt HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

I think he is hitting on you and you are right to feel uncomfortable and best thing you can do is to switch to another person even if he/she have unconvenient working hours. I understand you don't have to see doctor that often, so you can make arrangements at work, make up your time later.
Next time he will try to go further, first of all how can you prove anything, second even smart people "not always thinking". Best of all if you remove yourself from cituation.
In my experience relationship between doctor/patient should be professional. He/she may new few things about you like your profession, kids names but there it stops.
I had two times non-professional relationships and it was nice at first and then byte me back real hard. First was primary care who may not ask me for copay and gave me enough samples so I don't have to buy medicine. He ended up not returning calls, asking not to come on appointment, forgetting to give refferrals, talking in a tone a voice like he is doing me a favor.
Second time it was councelor who told me that she would charge me less in co-payments but give less sessions, than she asked me for carpools, depositing her checks. At first she was nice but she ended up shouting, insulting, talking about things easy and interesting to her, bothering me at home whenever she likes you name it.
Right now I have primary care with whom I pay all I have to but he never asked me not to come on appointment and other stuff I had to put up and I liked it this way.
My advice change the guy started from next appointment.

 
Old 10-26-2006, 12:26 PM   #3
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Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
What do you think? Am I making too much of it, would you feel uncomfy in this situation?
The only thing that matters here is - do YOU feel uncomfortable??

Maybe this is just how he is with everyone, who knows. But regardless, if it bothers you, then it is up to you to let it be known. Maybe he thought giving you a hug would help you feel better, or maybe there was something else behind it...hard to say.

This is obviously bothering you, so in the future you should be sure to keep the interaction as professional as possible. If he offers another hug, decline and be honest - it makes you uncomfortable. If he makes any more comments that seem unnecessary, like you being attractive or wondering why you're not in a relationship, just look at him with a cold, serious expression and say "I don't see what that has to do with anything."

That's what I would do, at least. You have to know what your boundaries are sunshine, so that way you can let others know when they have crossed them.
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Old 10-26-2006, 12:44 PM   #4
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thesedays HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Sunshine - tough call. My doc is friendly like this and he is NOT hitting on me. He's just caring. I've only seen him 3 or 4 times also and we always end up talking about my "mental" well being which involves speaking of my personal relationships.

You said you were "upset" while talking about your issues. Were you crying and outwardly upset? When he said you were attractive and had a lot to be happy / cheerful about .......did he seem he was just trying to make you feel better / good about yourself.

The last time I saw my doc, I was also severly depressed, and he hugged me, but it seemed very "fatherly" to me.

Only YOU know if it was inappropriate touching compared to a compassionate human.

 
Old 10-26-2006, 01:47 PM   #5
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brazilman HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Hi

I was going to say something along the same lines as GypsyArcher. Although his attitude looks a little bit strange, it's difficult to judge him and say that he is after you or something. Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe you are just projecting.

If he is a good doctor and his treatment is coming out right, I would stick with him, because it may be a nuisance to change to another and start from scratch again, but just to reassure myself, I would either try to read his certificate of conduct or something like that or come to the next appointment with someone else (mother or a friend).

It is not unusual for doctors to appear to be overstepping the mark, that is, asking personal questions, making personal observations and even being tender (although the lengthy hug was maybe too much). Doctors often function like therapists.

It is very awkward for a patient to be on the defensive all the way or to answer back, that is, in a naughty way. The relationship doctor-patient is rarely bi-reciprocal, that is, the patient is always in a slightly inferior position. But there must be trust from your side and respect from the doctor's side.

Ask yourself if you trust this man. Check to see if there is no transference issues at stake here. A little transference from patient to doctor is not unhealthy, it may be even necessary. But if any of these things become an obsession with you (desire to be with him, fear of him, feeling uncomfortable in his presence, etc), then maybe it is high time you looked in another direction.

JC

 
Old 10-27-2006, 06:42 AM   #6
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sunshine0806 HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by thesedays
You said you were "upset" while talking about your issues. Were you crying and outwardly upset? When he said you were attractive and had a lot to be happy / cheerful about .......did he seem he was just trying to make you feel better / good about yourself.
I got teary-eyed when I was explaining what was going on - not really crying, but upset. I felt a lot better though after speaking with him. I had felt uncomfortable about trying anti-depressants, but felt after speaking with him that they would be beneficial and not change my personality or give me a bunch of side effects. I guess it confused me because by that point, I was feeling better, and also, because it doesn't seem to be the thing this doctor would normally do. I went to see him around this time last year when I was going through similar things. I was more upset then than I was this time, but he seemed very distant and unconcerned. He wanted me to try the ADs, but I was hesitant and he didn't want to talk about my concerns. He is really pro-medication - he will prescribe something right away, w/o much discussion. I actually felt like I was misdiagnosed by him before when I had chest pains some time ago (I think it was after affects of mono).

Anyway, this time was completely different - he seemed to have a better "bedside manner." It was just something that kinda threw me because I'm not used to anyone, esp. in a professional setting, hugging me or giving any physical contact unless I know them very well. I've always been pretty standoffish, and usually people sense this. And the attractive stuff - also not something I'm used to - maybe he was trying to make me feel better, but in the first appt., I don't see how it fit in at all. I don't know, I was just curious to see what people thought - I guess I am used to being in the legal setting, where everything is "hands off."

 
Old 10-27-2006, 07:00 AM   #7
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galinaqt HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

I don't think that being hugged by the doctor is normal. Only time it happened when I had shrink, she was acting as a motherly figure and it ended up badly, she started acting as if I am a family -shouting, insulting, trying to pick up a fight.
May be you are interested in this guy and want to have an affair with him, than it is a different story.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 07:25 AM   #8
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sunshine0806 HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by galinaqt
I don't think that being hugged by the doctor is normal. Only time it happened when I had shrink, she was acting as a motherly figure and it ended up badly, she started acting as if I am a family -shouting, insulting, trying to pick up a fight.
May be you are interested in this guy and want to have an affair with him, than it is a different story.
No, I'm not interested in him. When I first met him, I thought he was handsome and had some interest, but he was married and also my doctor - bad combination! As it stands now, I just got out of a rocky relationship and am not interested in seeing anyone for awhile (he knows this).

ETA: what I want to know is if HE's interested in ME. And it is really difficult to know - I'm very naive about men, and often don't realize a guy is interested until he comes out and tells me or someone else does. I have a pretty low self-esteem. My instincts tell me that something is up, but I don't know if that's me somewhere deep inside wanting there to be something (?).

Last edited by sunshine0806; 10-27-2006 at 07:32 AM.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 07:40 AM   #9
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galinaqt HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

He knows that you are avilable now. It may not mean a thing for him that you don't want another relationship right now, he may have his agenda in mind.
Best thing you could do is just change the doctor, it will save you are lot of "unpleasant" moments, especially since you already in fragile state.
I had a lot of "man problem", which more experienced woman with high selfesteem would never have. Bad man take advantage of that.

Last edited by galinaqt; 10-27-2006 at 07:43 AM.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 09:25 AM   #10
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brazilman HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshine0806
I got teary-eyed when I was explaining what was going on - not really crying, but upset. I felt a lot better though after speaking with him. I had felt uncomfortable about trying anti-depressants, but felt after speaking with him that they would be beneficial and not change my personality or give me a bunch of side effects. I guess it confused me because by that point, I was feeling better, and also, because it doesn't seem to be the thing this doctor would normally do. I went to see him around this time last year when I was going through similar things. I was more upset then than I was this time, but he seemed very distant and unconcerned. He wanted me to try the ADs, but I was hesitant and he didn't want to talk about my concerns. He is really pro-medication - he will prescribe something right away, w/o much discussion. I actually felt like I was misdiagnosed by him before when I had chest pains some time ago (I think it was after affects of mono).

Anyway, this time was completely different - he seemed to have a better "bedside manner." It was just something that kinda threw me because I'm not used to anyone, esp. in a professional setting, hugging me or giving any physical contact unless I know them very well. I've always been pretty standoffish, and usually people sense this. And the attractive stuff - also not something I'm used to - maybe he was trying to make me feel better, but in the first appt., I don't see how it fit in at all. I don't know, I was just curious to see what people thought - I guess I am used to being in the legal setting, where everything is "hands off."
How "funny" that you are getting medical care for depression and your nickname happens to be sunshine! I am not really trying to make light of your issues, and I really don't know what makes you depressed in the first place, but, although this is not the right thread for that, I'd venture to say that maybe you really more sunshine in the literal sense.

Actually, what was your original question? Indeed, if going to this doctor leaves you in doubt and especially if it adds to your depression, then I think you'd be better to quit him. In this case, it seems that the "healing" is being more painful than your "condition".

Best.

JC

 
Old 10-27-2006, 10:03 AM   #11
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galinaqt HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josť Carlos
Indeed, if going to this doctor leaves you in doubt and especially if it adds to your depression, then I think you'd be better to quit him. In this case, it seems that the "healing" is being more painful than your "condition".

Best.

JC
Two councelors I had made me feel worse, my suggestion would be also quitting him. No reason to make your life more complex as it is. Unfortinately there are quite a number of people in this profession who are looking forward to take advantage of a person, one should be careful.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 04:40 PM   #12
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sunshine0806 HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josť Carlos
How "funny" that you are getting medical care for depression and your nickname happens to be sunshine! I am not really trying to make light of your issues, and I really don't know what makes you depressed in the first place, but, although this is not the right thread for that, I'd venture to say that maybe you really more sunshine in the literal sense.

JC
Yeah, sunshine was a nickname I was given a long time ago. I remembered it because I don't know how anyone could see me as "sunny." I guess I was happier back then - seems like I'm on a bad luck streak lately. I think I'm getting back on track, though.

Actually, what was your original question? Indeed, if going to this doctor leaves you in doubt and especially if it adds to your depression, then I think you'd be better to quit him. In this case, it seems that the "healing" is being more painful than your "condition"

Well, I don't want to quit going to my doctor. Most of the other doctors in the clinic are relatively new. Two of the ones I used to see most often have gone, and the only one left that I've gone to before I don't like very well. I think only one of the doctors is accepting new patients, and I don't want to leave the clinic. Even if I switched to the new doctor, the office is going to want to know why. I don't have a problem with my doctor. He did make me feel a little uncomfy, but maybe he was just in a weird mood. The medicine he prescribed has really helped. I don't want to risk switching doctors when I'm in the middle of treatment, and I don't see the point. I just think his behavior is a little... erratic at times, and I wanted to see if others saw it the way I did. I've gotten very differing opinions, so I'm not sure what to think.

Overall, he seems caring and supportive. I'd rather have that than someone who is cold and uncaring. I doubt that he would do anything to intentionally cross the line, unless he thought it's something I would want. He's kind of head honcho at the clinic now that other doctors have left. I don't think he would risk losing that. Doctor/patient relationships are even more sordid and unethical (at least they're viewed this way) than lawyer/client relationships. They're even illegal in some states. I took an ethics course in paralegal school which detailed the progression of these relationships, the consequences, etc. Surely my doctor knows all of this as well. Well, thanks for all the advice and support. I do appreciate it.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 06:29 PM   #13
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2CBK HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshine0806
Since I'm not in the medical profession, I'm not sure what is considered to be appropriate behavior from a physician, and what is not. I know that it is a little different than some professional relationships, but is still a professional relationship. I'm looking for some input on my situation, and maybe there are some people here employed in the medical field that can offer insight.
I have worked in the medical field for a while now and I have never seen a doctor hug (embrace it seems) a patient unless they've known each other for a looooong time, or have gone thru a big trial and even at that they've known the doctor for a long time.

You mentioned that he was on antidepressants too because of his divorce? I think that may alter his behavior, but because you don't go to him that often it seems like he's trying to hit on you.

I would find a new doctor. I know that can be a pain but you never know how things will end up, it could be a big mess with alligations and all sorts.

I think you both are in a vulnerable spot (him going thru a divorce) and your situation. Better to bail out now than later.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 06:34 PM   #14
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Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

He wants you. It's up to you what you do about it.

 
Old 10-27-2006, 06:47 PM   #15
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galinaqt HB User
Re: The Doctor/Patient Relationship

Overall, he seems caring and supportive. I'd rather have that than someone who is cold and uncaring.


It is funny but that what I told my dh when he worned me that my relationship with councelor is unprofessional, but she changed her attitude 100% to extremly rude and abusive.
Anyway I am agree with one of the posters better get out of that cituation before it goes too far.

 
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