Special relationships (romantic, spousal, partner or other intimate relationships) between health care providers have become more common with time. This article describes a hypothetical case (though based on a real case) involving a surgeon and anesthesiologist in which a complication that could have been caused by either one created a possible conflict of interest from both a medical and medico-legal standpoint. It then explores the medical, ethical, and legal implications of such cases and makes recommendations for minimizing the potential conflicts of interest due to special relationships between health care providers.

A 45-year-old man underwent an open inguinal hernia repair under general anesthesia supplemented by an iliohypogastric block for postoperative pain that was placed by an anesthesiologist. The patient’s surgeon and anesthesiologist were married to each other. The block, general anesthesia and surgery appeared to have gone uneventfully until...

You do not currently have access to this content.