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Unwanted attention from a patient

Post date: 25/04/2023 | Time to read article: 1 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 02/05/2023

A foundation dentist is the subject of unwanted attention from a patient.

Dr E was nearing the completion of her foundation training year and had just two weeks left to work before setting off on a well-deserved break to France with her family.

At lunchtime, she was approached by the practice manager who was carrying a bunch of flowers and a letter from a patient admirer, Mr F. The contents of the letter were clear about Mr F’s feelings towards Dr E and included an invitation to take her out for dinner.

The letter left Dr E feeling uncomfortable as the attention was both uninvited and unwanted.

Unwanted attention from a patient can be unsettling. 


Dr E contacts Dental Protection

Dr E contacted Dental Protection for advice and spoke to an experienced case manager who listened to Dr E’s concerns. It was agreed that Dr E would send a copy of the letter to Dental Protection for advice.

Dr E’s case was reviewed by a dentolegal consultant who was then able to advise her on how best to respond to Mr F. Dental Protection provided a draft letter for Dr E to consider using as her response in which it was made clear that the interest was unwanted, and that Dr E wished to maintain only a professional relationship. The letter outlined that Dr E felt that it would be in Mr F’s best interests to be seen by another colleague at the practice to help maintain professional boundaries in the future.

Mr F responded soon after to apologise and accepted the offer of having his care transferred to another dentist at the practice.

Learning points

It is important to maintain professional boundaries with all patients and any advances of a personal nature, however much they are invited, need to be carefully considered in the context of the dentist-patient relationship.

Unwanted attention from a patient can be unsettling. Dental Protection can provide advice on managing any situation where a patient is giving uninvited and unwanted attention. It can be difficult to predict how a patient will react to having their advances turned down, so reporting and seeking a support are crucial.


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