Sexual Misconduct By Doctors

Tips For Male Patients To Prevent Sexual Abuse In Medical Settings

Female patients are much more likely than male patients to be sexually abused in medical settings, but that does not mean that male patients are not at risk of being sexually abused too. Men are less likely than women to report sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in medical settings is more common than many people realize.

One health outcomes researcher did a survey with a group of men and 10% of them reported inappropriate touching and comments during a physical exam at some point in their lives. In this survey, the most common groups to be exploited were (1) young naïve teenagers, followed by (2) guys in their 20s getting their first required physical for employment, followed by (3) men getting their 3rd or 4th Digital Rectal Exam (DRE).

Important information about modesty concerns: Many doctors use female nurses or assistants as chaperones during exams that are unnecessary and cause embarrassment for male patients. In some cases, a female assistant stays around to observe or take notes while the male patient is undressed. Speak up and ask for a private exam with the doctor without the female medical personnel.

If you look through medical boards and newspapers in the United States, you will find some cases of sexual abuse by doctors and nurses. 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. Some doctors that have committed sexual misconduct have continued to practice. One female ENT doctor abused a number of male patients under anesthesia by doing non-consensual genital exams on them. There is absolutely no reason for an ENT doctor to do genital exams on patients anyway.

1.) It is prudent for a male patient to find a good male doctor for intimate male health issues. Try to find a male doctor who is very sensitive to patient modesty and protecting your privacy as much as possible. Consider interviewing a doctor to see where he stands on patient modesty before allowing him to do intimate examinations on you. It would also be prudent to have a male doctor perform your colonoscopy if you must have the procedure.

2.) Do not allow yourself to be pressured into having a genital or rectal exam at any doctor appointments. Some male 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 genital, prostate, or rectal exam 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).

3.) Keep in mind that genital exams are often unnecessary unless you have urological symptoms or a genital injury. You have the right to refuse genital or rectal exams at any time.

4.) Take along a trusted person (preferably your wife) for doctor appointments that require genital or rectal exams if possible - not only for protection from potential sexual abuse, but to act as another set of eyes and ears to help listen and remember everything you need to know regarding the reason you actually are there. 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. If the doctor refuses to allow the person of your choice to be present, walk away.

5.) If you are uncomfortable with something that is happening during an exam or procedure, speak up and stop the exam or procedure.

6.) 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, to uncover the area of concern while remaining clothed.

7.) 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.

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 male hand surgery patient had his gown and underwear removed after he was put under anesthesia. The only reason he found out was because he woke up in middle of the surgery. Check out Why You Should Have a Personal Advocate For Surgery?

9.) 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. If you are married, it would be best that your wife assist you with bathing. Many men are more comfortable with their wives bathing them than a nurse. If a nurse or aide must assist you with bathing, it would be prudent to ask for a male.

10.) Insist that no urinary catheter be inserted unless it is absolutely necessary. Too many unnecessary urinary catheterizations are done. If you must be catheterized, it would be prudent to ask that a male nurse do it.

11.) Insist on a male ultrasound technician for scrotal ultrasound if you are required to have one.



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