Urology Times reached out to three urologists (selected randomly) and asked them each the following question: Is it OK for physicians to hug their patients?
“Yes, it is. There isn’t any problem as long as it’s done in the context of caring. First of all, touching a patient—laying hands on them—does have a benefit, especially as far as what you’re doing is caring.
Patients, especially surgical patients, understand we have to have contact with them to heal them, so that’s acceptable. Hugging, especially if someone is really going through a hard time with their care, is appropriate if it’s done in the right context.
I don’t think the concerns raised today about the MeToo Movement impact this relationship because those cases are pretty clear about the intents.
It’s unfortunate that those things filter out into other daily things that actually have a completely different context, but it hasn’t really given me any pause. Most times, it’s not me requesting hugs; it’s patients. I don’t do it unless it’s patients who are distraught.
Most of my comforting is not physical; it’s discussion and talking and emotional support. I would say when I do have contact, it’s the patient who has requested it.”
James Porter, MD