Melbourne, Oct 31 (ANI): Nurses have been banned from flirting with patients as per the new professional-ethics guidelines introduced in Australian hospitals.
Also forbidden under the code are sexual innuendo, 'off-colour' jokes and using offensive language.
The guidelines were drawn up by the newly created Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and have been issued to all nursing staff.
Nurses have been warned that discussing personal problems, feelings of sexual attraction or aspects of their personal life with patients could be interpreted as sexual violations.
The rules state sexual misconduct is an "extremely serious violation of the nurse's professional responsibility to the person in their care", and could result in dismissal.
Even if a patient consents or initiates sexual conduct, it is the nurse's responsibility to maintain a professional boundary.
The guidelines came into effect on July 1, when all states joined the scheme.
The guidelines have also stipulated that nurses must not accept bus fares, meal tickets, money or goods from patients.
Brett Holmes of the NSW Nurses' Association said it was the first time there had been specific guidelines on flirting. He was concerned nurses could be punished for being friendly to patients.
"It's a fairly high bar as flirting becomes crossing a professional boundary. Is [flirting] being fairly jocular or having a light-hearted conversation in what can be a very difficult situation, when it's therapeutic to lighten the load?" News.com.au quoted him as saying.
Holmes said the medical tribunal should take "a balanced view rather than trying to make a black-letter law on what is or isn't flirting". (ANI)