Can I Meet with a Patient After they are Discharged?
In short, no, it is not okay to meet with a patient after they are discharged. This would be considered a former client or patient. Both the Board of Behavioral Health & Therapy (BBHT) and the Board of Social Work (BoSW) have laws/rules regarding intimate relationships with former patients/clients. What starts as a cup of coffee often results in an intimate relationship. The BBHT states that a licensee may not engage in any sexual behavior with a former patient for 2 years after the professional relationship has been terminated (even longer in certain circumstances). So, there remain exceptions even after 2 years. LADC Minn. Stat. 148F.165 Subd. 7; LPC/LPCC Minn. Administrative Rule 2150.7550. The BoSW also states that a sexual relationship with a former client to whom certain services were provided is not acceptable under any circumstance for 2 years. Minn. Stat. 148E.220. This is an area where behavioral health professionals are frequently disciplined. Think through any decision to see a former client/patient outside of the clinical arena as it will likely be career-ending if you fail to abide by the law. Seek input from a trusted colleague or supervisor.
The Board of Nursing (BoN) does not have a statute (Law) defining a timeline for having an intimate relationship with a former patient. This is problematic as the disciplinary outcome of a relationship with a former patient depends on the members of the disciplinary panel and the report received, which will likely consist of hearsay. To be safe, contact your manager or supervisor to discuss the situation. While other states have a defined timeline for when a relationship becomes a disciplinary issue for a licensee, Minnesota does not. Things considered will be the vulnerability of the patient and your role in caring for the patient as the nurse, as well as how long it had been since you cared for the patient. If you find yourself in need of nursing license related counsel, contact Barb Forshier of Forshier Law today.