The Indian Psychiatric Society has framed guidelines, directing doctors not to enter into sexual or emotional relationships with their patients. This is the first time that an association of doctors in India has come up with such advice.

The advice is for the entire medical fraternity. However, it will be binding on members of the Indian Psychiatric Society once the body formally adopts the guidelines in October. “We have invited suggestions from the community on the guidelines, which will be adopted next month,” said Dr G Prasad Rao, president of the Indian Psychiatric Society.

The draft outlines the protocol doctors are expected to follow while interacting with their patients, and classifies violations into two types – sexual boundary violations and non-sexual boundary violations. It also asks doctors not to touch patients “inappropriately in the guise of physical examination or sexual therapy, for own sexual gratification” and suggest that doctor physically examining patients keep a chaperone in the room.

The guidelines affirm that even consensual sexual relations between patients and doctors irretrievably changes the therapeutic nature of the doctor-patient dynamic and lays down when it would be appropriate for the doctor and patient to enter into a relationship. The draft guidelines read: “A minimum time frame of one year should elapse after the doctor-patient relationship is terminated after which it may be permissible for the doctor to enter into a relationship with the patient (so long as existing laws of the Indian Penal Code are not broken).”