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Undue Familiarity

Undue Familiarity

Definition

A legal doctrine stating that physicians have a duty not to become physically intimate with their patients. Given the unique relationship that exists in a therapeutic setting between a doctor and a patient, a psychiatrist, for example, who becomes intimate with a patient could cause the patient significant emotional harm. Accordingly, doctors who violate their duty not to become unduly familiar with their patients are usually held strictly liable for any damages resulting from such conduct. As a result, virtually all physicians' professional liability policy forms exclude coverage for damages resulting from sexual acts, although most policies do cover the costs of defending allegations that a physician violated the duty of undue familiarity.

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