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Introduction

Dr Gallagher has bumped into Marlena again, this time in a nightclub. They have been talking for some time and it is getting late. Marlena has recently come back from a holiday in the Caribbean.

(The story so far...)

A year ago, Dr Gallagher treated Marlena Cieslak in A&E. She had been the victim of domestic violence and was suffering from depression. Dr Gallagher provided Marlena with advice about support services and wrote to her GP asking that they arrange counselling. Since then he has seen her only once, briefly, when she was returning from a counselling appointment.

Dr Gallagher

Dr Gallagher

I'm so pleased things have worked out well for you, Marlena. It sounds like you're having a great time.

Marlena

Marlena

Oh yes I am. I'm really enjoying life for the first time since...well, since I was a child really. The beaches in St Lucia were so beautiful.

Dr Gallagher

Dr Gallagher

It does sound like a wonderful place. I'd love to go there myself one day...

Marlena

Marlena

Oh you should come back to my place to see my photos! My flatmate's away for the weekend and its just 10 minutes in a taxi. I brought back a bottle of delicious rum - I could make us some Caribbean coffees! Oh no wait, I love this song, lets dance! Then we can get a taxi back to mine.

What should the doctor do...? (Select A,B or C)

A

Go back to Marlena's place as it has been over a year since their professional relationship, and they had minimal contact at that point?

B

Tell Marlena he is glad she is doing so well but decline to dance with her and go home on his own?

C

Go back to Marlena's place on the understanding that they will just be friends as it wouldn't be wise for him professionally to embark on a sexual relationship with her?

Dr Gallagher

See what the doctor did

Dr Gallagher went back to Marlena's flat but decided not to begin a physical relationship with her, because she had been so vulnerable when they first met, and was still very grateful to him for helping her.

Despite the fact that their relationship did not progress, Marlena's ex-boyfriend found out about Dr Gallagher's visit to Marlena's flat and made a complaint about him to the Communitybaptistpa. The case did not progress to a Fitness to Practice panel as Dr Gallagher was able to explain - with Marlena's co-operation - that he had not abused his professional position. Dr Gallagher received a letter of advice from the Communitybaptistpa but his fitness to practice was not found to be impaired.

References

53. You must not use your professional position to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with a patient or someone close to them
(Good Medical Practice, paragraph 53)

 
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