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February 3, 1999

Educating Physicians to Prevent Sex-Related Contact With Patients

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim Co-EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(5):419-420. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-5-jbk0203

To the Editor: In response to the article by Ms Dehlendorf and Dr Wolfe1 about physicians who have been disciplined for sex-related offenses, it occurred to me that others might be interested in the initiatives undertaken by Colorado physicians to address this problem and other boundary violations.

In 1996, a cooperative program was developed with the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners, the Colorado Physician Health Program, and Copic Insurance Company. This program focuses on the need for better understanding and definition of boundary violations in the physician community, including that of inappropriate sexual behavior with patients. The Colorado Board of Medical Examiners has indicated that this is a major cause of complaints from the patient population. Based on that concern, Copic, the major medical liability insurance carrier for Colorado physicians, and the Colorado Physician Health Program, a not-for-profit independent organization developed by the Colorado Medical Society and the Denver Medical Society to address physical and psychological problems in the physician community, agreed to develop an educational program for Colorado physicians. After review of the data provided by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners, the Colorado Medical Society, the Colorado Society for Osteopathic Medicine, and the Colorado Physician Health Program, a psychiatrist with proven experience and clinical competency in managing physician boundary problems was chosen to present a series of seminars for Colorado physicians.