Sexual Misconduct By Doctors

Do Chaperones Really Protect Patients?

Nurse and Male Gynecologist

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 place.

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 oncologist, Dr. James Heaps with a chaperone present. Look at this important paragraph in the aricle:

Female “chaperones” 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.

The best 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.








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