A nurse that impregnates a women who is comatose…a physician who sexually assaults young gymnasts…a Newport Beach doctor and his girlfriend drug and sexual assaulting his patients. Makes you almost not want to trust doctors. In the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution newspaper, it was found that “3,100 practicing doctors who had been publicly disciplined after accusations of sexual infractions”.( In case you’re wondering what an infraction, it’s a minor offense.) Then out of those, 2,400 doctors had been threatened with a penalty for “violations involving patients.” So basically they have been given a slap on the wrist.
In one instance in Austin, Texas, a well-respected neurologist by the name of Dr. Philip Leonard was reported in 2001 by one victim (and 16 others) for rubbing his erection against her during an exam (Ernsthausen, Hart, Robbins & Teegardin, 2017). The medical board at first believed their stories and suspended Leonard’s medical license. However, they eventually changed their mind after one patient’s criminal case went to trial, causing the doctor to be acquitted. The medical board then made a deal with Dr. Leonard that he can still practice, but only male patients for 10 years. The restriction expired in 2014 (Ernsthausen et al, 2017).
Like how the medical board restricted Dr. Leonard to male patients, there are five other ways doctors can be restricted from being abusive:
- They can have limited duties
- They cannot treat children
- They cannot treat geriatric patients
- They must have a chaperone
- Their practice may be monitored
The problem with these, is these doctors may be able to still get away from it. For example, a cardiologist in New York cardiologist by the name of Frank T. Pollaro was charged for child pornography (Hart, 2017). However instead of the New York State Board for Profession Conduct had him evaluated in Atlanta at Behavioral Medicine Institute. He was to see a therapist, he couldn’t treat patients 18 or younger. But, he could for community service with the surveillance by a chaperone, continue to treat adult patients in their homes (Hart, 2017). In others words, sooner or later he would be allowed to practice again.
As you have read in this post, you may have noticed there are varied professions of the medical field. This can include OB/GYNs, seductions by psychiatrists, fondling by anesthesiologist and ophthalmologists, and molestation by pediatricians and radiologists (Ernsthausen et al, 2017). So even though there are medical practitioners who have done such things, how come the public doesn’t know about them? Here are some reasons (Hart, 2017):
- Regulators (like the State Medical Boards) don’t post key information
- No mentions are made of pending criminal charges
- Public orders have been taken offline (some states allow the disciplinary order be removed after a certain amount of time).
- No orders are online (meaning you have to make a request and sometimes may require a payment)
- States don’t detail allegations
- No cause is cited for restrictions
- No reason is given when doctors surrender licenses
- Disciplinary orders are obscure
- Orders only use vague terms
- Passages deleted from orders
- The severity of the violation is understated
That doesn’t even include websites that make even more difficult to request for such documents.
So how would you know, if a doctor is conducting an examination the wrong way? Here are some ways (AJA, 2017):
- Examine or touch genitals without use of gloves
- Subject a patient to an intimate examination in the presence of others without the patient’s informed consent
- Conduct an intimate exam in an unusual manner, such as conducting a breast exam from behind the patient; leaving both breasts exposed; or ordering the patient to assumed positions to assume positions to expose the patient’s genital or rectal areas, without clinical justification
So what can you do as patient to protect yourself? You can:
- Call the police
- Contact the State Medical Board
- Contact the Hospital or clinic affiliated with the doctor
- Contact advocacy organizations
- Contact rape crisis
I understand the fear of seeing doctors. I myself have felt violated by a doctor I trusted when I was in a vulnerable state during a Pap smear exam. It took me years to figure out what he did to me. I didn’t know what to do at the time, but I researched the OB/GYN Doctor online, but so far nothing. All I saw was the good views on him. The information I gave you, is that so you can protect yourself and avoid such pains. Even if you were sexual assulted, there are resources out there to help you. And remember this: You are not alone.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). (2017). Resources for Patients. Retrieved from: http://doctors.ajc.com/doctors_sex_abuse_resources/
Ernsthausen, J., Hart, A., Robbins, D., Teegardian, C. (2017). License to Betray. Retrieved from: http://doctors.ajc.com/doctors_sex_abuse/?ecmp=doctorssexabuse_microsite_nav
Hart, A. (2017). Gaps, Cloaks and Barriers. Retrieved from: http://doctors.ajc.com/states_discipline_sex_abuse/
Hart, A. (2017). 6 Ways Abusive Doctors May Be Restricted When They Return To Practice. Retrieved from: http://doctors.ajc.com/sex_abuse_safeguards/?ecmp=doctorssexabuse_microsite_nav
Scutti, S. (2016). Report on Physician Sexual Abuse Stirs Alarm. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2016/07/11/health/doctor-sexual-abuse/index.html