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Avant eLearning module: Managing boundaries in patients with mental health issues

Speciality Classification
General Practice ( GP ) / Family Medicine
2 hrs

This learning unit describes the challenges associated with identifying mental illness in patients, and managing the practitioner-patient professional boundary. Breakdown in the professional boundary can lead to significant problems for patients, and is one of the major reasons for complaints against practitioners.

Relevance to General Practice

The Australian Medical Council states that ‘good medical practice involves…never using your professional position to establish or pursue a sexual, exploitative or other inappropriate relationship with anybody under your care’. Similarly medical boards have used terms like ‘absolute rule’ when describing this behaviour. This should be adhered to even if the patient has consented and regardless of the nature of the personal relationship that develops, such as a mutual loving relationship. Since the Hippocratic Oath in 400BC it has been stated that doctors must abstain from ‘the seduction of females or males’.

Learning outcomes
  • Describe the difficulties associated with identifying mental health issues in patients
  • List the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with practitioner-patient boundaries in dealing with patients with mental health issues
  • Implement practical steps to prevent boundary violations occurring in dealings with patients with mental health issues.
  • Domains of General Practice

    D1. Communication skills and the patient-doctor relationship

    • Communication is clear, respectful, empathic and appropriate to the person and their sociocultural context

    D2. Applied professional knowledge and skills

    • Appropriate mode of care delivery to suit the needs of the patient

    D3. Population health and the context of general practice

    • Barriers to equitable access to quality care are addressed

    D4. Professional and ethical role

    • Adherence to relevant codes and standards of ethical and professional behaviour

    D5. Organisational and legal dimensions

    • Medico-legal requirements are integrated into accurate documentation

    Curriculum Contextual Units
    • Adult health
    • Care of older people
    • Children and young people health
    • Individuals with disabilities
    • Men's health
    • Pregnancy care
    • Refugee and asylum seeker health
    • Residential care
    • Sex, sexuality, gender diversity and health
    • Women's health
    • Psychological health
    Avant eLearning module: Managing boundaries in patients with mental health issues
    Provider Type
    Education Provider
    2 hrs
    Start Date
    End Date
    CPD Points
    4 cpd