Really Protect Patients?
Many people falsely assume that
patients will be protected from sexual abuse and wrongdoing by a
doctor if a nurse or medical assistant is present. But is
this really true?
Many doctors especially male doctors
will have a nurse or assistant present for intimate exams such as
breast, pelvic exams, and pap smears. The chaperone is the doctor's
employee so she looks out for him and she will often defend him
even when he does something wrong. Keep in mind that the nurse or
assistant is there to "protect" the doctor and is rarely
on the patient's side. There have been cases where female patients
felt the male doctor went too far, but the nurse or assistant felt
he was simply doing thorough examinations. One lady who was very
upset that a male doctor did a rectal exam and a pap smear without
her consent talked to the nurse who was present about her concerns.
The nurse defended the doctor by saying that he did very thorough
exams. Based on some research, male doctors tend to take longer
than female doctors on breast and pelvic examinations. There was
one case where everything happened so quickly that took the nurse
off guard and she was not able to report what happened until the
female patient left.
There are times a nurse or assistant
may know that the doctor is doing something wrong, but she may be
afraid to expose his criminal activities for fear of being fired
or facing discrimination in the workplace.
Even in cases where a state medical
board mandates a chaperone as a result of a doctor’s sexual
misconduct, the chaperone is not directed to intervene if misconduct
occurs, but only to observe and report to the medical board. This
is not good because sexual abuse should be prevented in the first
Nearly half of all doctors sanctioned
for sexual misconduct still practice. Even doctors who lose their
licenses for sexual misconduct can often get them reinstated after
a year or two.
It's hard to collect the evidence
to support one's suspicions, and without evidence victims feel
powerless. It usually takes many years for a male doctor to be
arrested for wrongdoing. For example, Dr.
Levy secretly took pictures of his patients for a long time
before he was arrested. He was a very popular OB/GYN who delivered
many babies and helped a lot of women with female health problems.
Think about how these patients are further violated by having
their nude images being viewed by teams of police personnel.
*Check out this article
about a woman, Ellen Cater who was sexually abused by gynecologic
James Heaps with a chaperone present. Look at this important
paragraph in the aricle:
usually accompanied Heaps during these examinations. The role
of a medical chaperone, according to the American Medical Association,
is to serve as a witness for both patient and practitioner during
procedures. But Cater says in the lawsuit that Heaps's
chaperones turned a blind eye to the alleged abuse. “I assumed
having another woman in the room meant they were there to protect
me from things like this,” she says. “So I told myself,
‘They approve of it, so he must know what he’s doing.'"
Important Facts About Chaperones
To Keep in Mind:
1) A nurse / assistant cannot help
to chaperone a doctor's mind. She cannot control his lustful thoughts
as he does intimate examinations on women. The male doctor could
be enjoying the exam as though he were looking at pornography
or a strip show, and then fantasizing about it later on after
he leaves work. It is very normal for men to be aroused by seeing
naked women and a male doctor is no different. No amount of training
can take the "man" out of a male doctor. No matter how
professional the male doctor is, there is no chance that he could
stay pure in his mind 100 percent of the time. Look at all of
the sexual misconduct cases involving male
OB/GYNs in the news.
2) A nurse / assistant rarely will
advocate for your wishes.
3) A nurse / assistant rarely helps
to prevent sexual abuse. Abuse usually happens so quickly.
4) Doctors are able to get away
with more unnecessary invasive exams if a nurse or assistant is
present without getting in trouble.Why would the presence
of a nurse make acceptable any exam that bears no relevance to
the patient's presenting concern? Here are two examples
to consider: 1.) Breast and external genital exams performed by
an endocrinologist on a woman presenting for suspected Hyperaldosteronism
would be inappropriate with or without the presence of a nurse.
2.) Breast exam performed by a doctor on a lady who has jaw pain.
way for women to prevent sexual abuse by doctors is to only go
to a female doctor for intimate female health issues and to not
let a male doctor see any parts of her body that are covered by
a two-piece bathing suit.