November 4, 2020 | Medscape

Oncologist Pays for Patient's Meds: A 'Boundary' Crossed?

Medscape's Nick Mulcahy writes about an oncology fellow who pays for a patient's medication, leading to a conversation about provider-patient relationships and boundaries.

"Steve Joffe, MD, a pediatric oncologist and bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, says that 'there are things that everybody agrees are completely out of bounds,' such as a doctor-patient sexual relationship. And there are things everyone agrees are appropriate, he says, such as when a patient dies and the doctor attends the wake or funeral.

Between these two situations, there is uncertainty, he suggests: 'The lines [demarcating acceptable doctor-patient relations] are not always obvious. That's where the controversy comes up.'

In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Joffe brought up one of Schiff's points: the distance needed to keep patients at arm's length varies by locale. 'My dad was a practicing physician in a medium-sized town. I can tell you that there were varying kinds of relationships ― personal and professional ― and different ways people took care of each other.'"

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