Morals vs. Rules
I was having a conversation with a fellow classmate about interacting with patients outside the clinic, and we got to wondering about what's allowed and not allowed. In the particular case that we were talking about, my friend ran into a patient over his lunch break. The patient, a 20-something male with CP who has a tough time walking, was having lunch at the same place. My friend sat down and finished his lunch with the patient. When they were leaving, he offered to give the patient a ride back to the clinic, which was just across the parking lot but a significant walk for this guy. He offered without even thinking, but wondered afterward if his decision was the most responsible.
Without question, I would have done the same thing. I can't imagine saying goodbye and watching this person struggle to walk back to the same place that I was driving. At the same time, however, I recognize the legalities and risks involved with something as simple as this. So where do we draw the line? I'm sure this is one of many examples I'll encounter over the years. I'm bound to see patients at restaurants, bars, sporting events etc. So what's the best approach? Pretend like you don't know them? Wait for them to initiate conversation?
I feel like I get to know my patients very well during their plan of care. I learn about their lives, work, families and interests. My first instinct if I see them in the community is going to be to ask them how they are doing, not avoid them.