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
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
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
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.