It is incumbent on every licensee and registrant to avoid boundary violations involving intimate or romantic or fiduciary relations with individuals while the latter are patients/clients. Both the chiropractic and massage professions regulations prohibit such conduct. Occasionally, licensees/registrants seek a clarification on when it is appropriate to date or develop a personal relationship with an individual after the professional status ends. The following is offered as clarification to this issue.
Situations where a relationship initially arises after the patient status ends: Once official patient/lient status ends, the licensee/registrant is free to develop a personal relationship with the former patient or client. The practitioner must insure that healthcare services have officially ended and not resumed before a personal relationship begins.
Situations where a relationship arises during patient status: If the practitioner believes that he/she and the patient are developing a personal relationship, the practitioner is advised to counsel the patient, terminate the relationship; and document the termination.
Significantly, every set of circumstances is different. Accordingly, even if the patient status terminates, the practitioner may wish to engage in a “cooling off period” to avoid the appearance of a perceived conflict of interest or boundary violation. The length of such a period should be prudently determined by the practitioner to avoid any appearance to a 3rd party of conflict or violation. If in doubt, impose a lengthier period.
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