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 a far greater risk of becoming a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a male doctor or male nurse, especially a gynecologist, than she is from men in the general population.

Our web site lists numerous news sources documenting doctors and other medical professionals who have been accused of sexually abusing patients. This is only a short list of actual abuse cases. There are many unreported cases because patients are afraid to speak up about the abuse they experienced. Some feel it would be pointless to report sexual abuse in medical settings 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.

It is disconcerting to know that many doctors that have committed sexual misconduct have continued to practice.

1) We advise all women to avoid male doctors, especially male gynecologists for childbirth and any procedures that involve intimate body parts covered by a two-piece bathing suit.

Women are in a very vulnerable position when male doctors perform intimate procedures on them. Having a nurse or an assistant present in the room with the doctor doesn't guarantee that nothing inappropriate would happen. Remember that the nurse or assistant is present to "protect" the doctor and will often side with the doctor over the patient. There have been cases where female patients felt the male doctor went too far, but the nurse or assistant believed he was simply performing a thorough examination. There was one case where the nurse was caught off guard from events occurring so quickly and she was unable to report what happened until the female patient left. It is certainly not worth the risk to let a male doctor do conduct intimate procedures on you. Dr. Robert Hadden, an OB/GYN who sexually abused some women during childbirth even molested one woman while her husband held her hand. It would also be prudent to have a female doctor perform your colonoscopy if you must undergo the procedure. Some male gastroenterologists have taken advantage of women while they were under anesthesia for a 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.

Do not listen to recommendations from family members or friends about male doctors, especially gynecologists, for procedures that involve uncovering body parts covered by a two-piece bathing suit. One woman reports that she regrets going to a male gynecologist a family member recommended because she was abused by him.

2) Don’t let your guard down if you have cancer or possible cancer.

If your gynecologist refers you to a gynecologic oncologist, make sure that the referral is to a female gynecologic oncologist. A gynecologic oncologist often conducts intimate procedures on women. A renowned gynecologic oncologist, Dr. James Heaps abused many patients. Check out the article, Referral to Gynecologic Oncologist.

3) Even with female doctors, you have to take some precautions.

Some female doctors are very coercive. You need to speak up about your values and wishes. 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 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 procedures.

4) Refuse Unnecessary Intimate Exams.

Do not allow yourself to be pressured into having a pelvic exam, pap smear, or breast exam at any appointment. Some female patients have gone to the doctor for other health concerns and were coerced into having unnecessary examinations. For instance if you go in for a sore 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 for the visit (ex: your throat is sore).

5) Don't undress or put on a medical gown when it is unnecessary and/or you feel uncomfortable.

Most procedures and tests such as blood tests, blood pressure tests, stethoscope heart exam, eye, ear, nose, throat examinations, leg ultrasounds, and many other procedures can be done fully clothed. 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 wear shorts instead of pants. You should wear a thin shirt and not a sweatshirt so your heart can be listened to through your shirt.

6) If you will be sedated or under anesthesia, you should insist that you have a family member or a friend present for your procedure to protect you.

Patients who are sedated or under anesthesia are very vulnerable because they have no control over what happens. Many patients are unnecessarily stripped naked for surgeries. One female patient had her gown and underwear removed after she was put under anesthesia for hand surgery. 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? We encourage all surgery patients to opt for local or regional anesthesia without sedation whenever possible.

7) Never assume that a well-respected doctor or a doctor you have seen for many years will never do anything inappropriate.

A well-respected doctor conducted unnecessary breast exams on high school girls whose mothers were not present for sports physicals.

8) Make a firm decision that you will not let any male medical professionals touch any parts of your body that are covered by a two-piece bathing suit.

Insist that no male nurse give you a bath or perform 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.

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

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

Go somewhere else if the hospital is not willing to accommodate your requirement for a support person to be with you.

10) Steer clear of any doctors who will not accommodate your wishes for maximum bodily privacy for procedures.

You should be able to wear 100% cotton underwear for most surgeries that do not involve the genitals, such as knee surgery. COVR Medical garments can be worn for procedures involving the groin and hip.

11) Be clear with communicating your intimate boundaries.

Medical staff will often not tell you in advance that the procedure or test will involve intimate access. For example, leg ultrasounds will often go from the foot to the groin and involve contact with the wand very close to the genital area.
When undergoing a leg ultrasound, medical staff may tell you to remove your underwear. You can refuse to do so because this procedure can be conducted with underwear and loose-fitting shorts on. You may have to pull them up at the leg.



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