Some of my: Inventions | Magazine interviews | Sheds | Favorite ER memories

Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Is it safe to date her PA?

Q: OK, so here goes . . . I have been going to the same medical practice for years. There is a PA at the practice (not my primary care physician, mind you) and he and I have a great rapport. We flirt, talk about very personal issues and even have discussed our attraction. I am going through a separation (still legally married) and he is divorced. I really like him, it's an amazing attraction that both of us seem to feel—we have talked about sexual things, even. He's asked why I'm still with my husband and I've been very frank with him. I'm sure he's hesitant as I have seen him for medical issues and I would never want to jeopardize his career. I'm willing to switch med groups if need be. We've emailed and texted a bit, but don't want to be too forward. How should I proceed? Ask him on a date once I'm legally separated and have changed PCPs? I'm lost on how to proceed. Thanks for your insight!

Answer by , MD: I would not switch PCPs if you have complex medical issues that your current PCPs are uniquely qualified to treat, but this is not an issue for most people.

Assuming that you do not live in the state of Washington (which imposes draconian penalties for healthcare practitioners who violate their unrealistic and unconstitutional regulations on relationships with patients), it is definitely safer from the standpoint of his career to pursue a romantic relationship with you once you are no longer being treated by him or by the medical practice for which he works. I am not an attorney and cannot give legal advice, but from what I've heard and read, it would be safer to put the relationship on hold until you are divorced—not just legally separated. A relationship preceding divorce might give your current husband grounds to sue the PA even after your divorce. If you and the PA later marry, you could be stuck paying your ex-husband, who might live happily ever after by draining the bank accounts of you and your PA spouse.

Perhaps your current husband does not have visions of retribution coursing through his veins, but plenty of ex-husbands and ex-wives do things that make lawsuits seem downright friendly. For an example of this, in one of my blog postings I mentioned how a rich local businessman was gunned down in the middle of an upscale resort town by a Catholic-school coach who'd previously led a rock-solid life. The coach was furious because Mr. MegaBucks had an affair with his wife, who was now divorcing him—presumably to be with her sugar daddy and his piles of gold. For countless other examples, tune into the true crime shows that document the surprisingly violent ways in which some people seek revenge after a divorce in which a former spouse heads for greener pastures.

Back to the main Question & Answer page