Sexual Misconduct By Doctors

Tips For Female Patients To Prevent Sexual Abuse In Medical Settings

In society, girls and women are always given tips on how to protect themselves from sexual abuse, but you rarely hear about how to prevent sexual abuse in medical settings. Sexual abuse in medical settings is more common than many people realize. A woman is at far greater risk of becoming a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a male doctor or male nurse especially gynecologist than she is from men in the general population she may encounter on the street.

If you look through medical boards and newspapers in the United States, you will notice that some doctors and nurses have been accused of sexual misconduct. There are many unreported cases because patients are afraid to speak up about the abuse they experienced because they know that it is very easy for doctors and nurses to get away with wrongdoing. Most women would be too embarrassed or ashamed to report sexual abuse by a medical professional or brush it aside feeling the medical care they received was worth the abuse. It is harder for a woman to report her doctor if he helped her through a difficult time such as miscarriage, infertility, or cancer and/or he gave her a special discount for procedures. Some doctors that have committed sexual misconduct have continued to practice.

1.) It is best for a female patient to never go to a male gynecologist. If you already have a male gynecologist, you should look at switching to a female gynecologist. There are so many good female ob/gyns you could choose from. If your area doesn't have any female ob/gyns, you should check into having a female Nurse Practitioner or Physician's Assistant do your women's health examinations. If you do research, you will find cases of sexual abuse by male gynecologists all over the US. You are in a very vulnerable position when you let a male doctor do intimate procedures on you. Having a nurse or an assistant present in the room with the doctor doesn't guarantee that nothing inappropriate would happen to you. Remember that the nurse or assistant is present to "protect" the doctor and will often be on the doctor'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. 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. It is certainly not worth the risk to let a male doctor do intimate female procedures or examinations. It would also be prudent to have a female doctor perform your colonoscopy if you must have the procedure. Some male gastroenterologists have taken advantage of women while they were under anesthesia for colonoscopy. One female patient found semen from the doctor on her face after she woke up from a colonoscopy in a Texas hospital. Check out a disciplinary action that was taken against another gastroenterologist that has been accused of sexually assaulting some female patients by Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing.

2.) Even with female gynecologists, you have to take some precautions. It is very rare for female ob/gyns to commit sexual misconduct, but it is possible. Some female doctors are very coercive when it comes to doing things. You need to speak up about things you don't want to be done to you. For example, one female ob/gyn ignored a lady's wishes in writing that she didn't want any medical students present for her C-Section. It is wise to have someone who can help you advocate for what you want. You should ask the female ob/gyn to tell you in details about what exactly what she will be doing and if there is anything you don't like, you should speak up. Find out who all will be present for the procedure.

3.) Do not allow yourself to be pressured into having a pelvic exam, pap smear, or breast exam at any doctor appointments. Some female patients have gone to the doctor for other health concerns and were pressured into having unnecessary examinations. For instance if you go in for a sore throat and you think you may have strep throat, don't spend time listening to a lecture by the doctor about how important it is to have a pap smear and that you need one today. If something like that happens, tell the doctor you are not interested and you only want to talk about the reason you came in (ex: your throat is sore).

4.) Don't undress or put on a medical gown when it is unnecessary and/or you feel uncomfortable. Most procedures and tests, including blood tests, blood pressure tests, stethoscope heart exam, eye, ear, nose, and throat examinations, as well as throat cultures can be done fully clothed. If your concern is an infection or suspicious spot on your skin, only uncover that part of your body and consider wearing a skirt, short sleeves, shorts, and socks or knee highs, to uncover the area of concern while remaining clothed.

5.) Keep in mind that it is unnecessary for you to take your shirt off for the doctor to listen to your heart. You should wear a thin shirt and not a sweatshirt. It is strange, but many doctors don't even ask men to take their shirts off to listen to their hearts, but they ask women to. That tells you something is wrong.

6.) You should think in advance about what parts of your body the doctor should examine and dress accordingly. For instance if you have a knee problem that you want the doctor to check out, you should put shorts instead of pants on so you would not have to take any of your clothes off in the doctor's office.

7.) Do not listen to recommendations from family members or friends about male gynecologists who may be good. Many people thought that the male gynecologists who have sexually abused patients were wonderful doctors who would never do anything inappropriate. Find yourself a female gynecologist to avoid the risk that you might be abused by a male doctor. Some women prefer for female midwives or Nurse Practitioners to do their women's wellness exams and that is a good choice too.

8.) If you are going to be put under anesthesia, you should insist that you have a family member or a friend present for your procedure to protect you. Patients who are under anesthesia are very vulnerable because they have no control over what happens. Many patients are unnecessarily stripped naked for surgeries. One female hand surgery patient had her gown and underwear removed after she was put under anesthesia. The only reason she found out was because she woke up in middle of the surgery. Check out Why You Should Have a Personal Advocate For Surgery?

9.) Never assume that a well-respected doctor will never do anything inappropriate. A well-respected doctor did unnecessary breast exams on high school girls whose mothers were not present for sports physicals.

10.) If you have cancer or possible cancer and your gynecologist refers you to a gynecologic oncologist, make sure that the referral is to a female gynecologic oncologist. Do not buy the argument that a male gynecologic oncologist is exempt since he is very skilled in helping with gynecologic cancers. A gynecologic oncologist often performs intimate procedures on women. Check out the article, Referral to Gynecologic Oncologist.

11.) Never assume that your male doctor of many years is not capable of abusing you because he has not abused you in the past. One lady was abused by her doctor after seeing him for many years.

12.) Make a firm decision that you will not let a male doctor or nurse to touch any parts of your body that are covered by a two piece bathing suit. This is a good way to prevent you from being sexually abused by a male medical personnel.

13.) Insist that no male nurse give you a bath or do intimate procedures on you such as urinary catheterizations. Many unnecessary urinary catheterizations are done. If you must be catheterized, ask that a female nurse insert your catheter.

14.) Insist on a female technician for EKG, transvaginal ultrasound (if needed), etc.

15.) If you must be hospitalized, it would be best if you could have someone not employed by the hospital present with you at least most of the time especially when you are asleep or drowsy.



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