Sexual relationships between health practitioners and former patients: when is it misconduct?

Jenni Millbank
Med J Aust 2020; 213 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50717
Published online: 7 September 2020

Professional codes of conduct expressly proscribe entering into a sexual relationship with a current patient, but the position is less clear concerning former patients

All 15 regulated health professions in Australia have profession‐specific codes of conduct which expressly proscribe entering into a sexual relationship with a patient. It is widely accepted that such conduct is so serious that it amounts to professional misconduct in most circumstances. However, the position is less clear concerning former patients. This article considers guidance from tribunal level health disciplinary decisions on when a person is a former patient, and when a sexual relationship with a former patient will nevertheless be misconduct.

  • University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW



I thank the UTS Law Health Justice Centre for providing funding for a research assistant to gather cases, and research associate Eloise Chandler for database management and Ray Carr for research assistance.

Competing interests:

I have been a part‐time senior member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), Occupational Division since 2015. This role involves presiding in health disciplinary matters under the National Law, including one case referenced here. The views expressed in this article are mine alone and do not represent NCAT. NCAT had no role in the design or conduct of this research.


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