Doctors Who Abuse Patients Allowed To Remain Licensed

Physicians take the Hippocratic Oath upon becoming a physician and promise to do no harm to any patient to whom they render treatment. Some doctors fail to uphold that oath. Instead of living their professional lives by the simple promise to protect the sanctity and dignity of human life, they destroy it by sexually assaulting their patients. The problem is more pervasive than initially believed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted a thorough investigation into the frequency of sexual abuse committed by physicians. Not only did the investigation reveal that the problem is far too common, but the coverups by hospitals and other organizations also shocks the conscience. Many physicians are getting away with sexual assault and given second chances to correct their behavior, only to go and re-offend.

The newspaper’s investigation yielded surprising results. After reviewing 100,000 disciplinary rulings and other documents, the journalists found that 3,100 doctors received public discipline since 1999 involve some illicit sexual conduct. More than 2,400 of those disciplinary cases referred to sexual abuse of a patient. The remaining cases involved sexual harassment, public indecency, and other forms of sexual deviance.

What these cases show is a physician taking advantage of their power and prestige to fulfill their own sexual desires. Doctors can ask a person to take their clothing off without an objection. The patient is extremely vulnerable to the physician. Unethical and deviant doctors can take advantage of the situation. According to the investigation conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, doctors would use suggestive or make inappropriate comments during intimate exams. Also, doctors would molest their patients, masturbate in front of the patient, swap drugs for sex, or commit rape. Doctors can document the exam with vague language that seemingly indicates that the patient consented to whatever occurred in the exam room. Consent is a tricky issue in this instance because of the disparity of power between the doctor and patient.

One advocate for sexual assault victims blames the deference the typical patient shows the doctor. As patients, we are sometimes helpless and at the mercy of the physician. Healthcare professionals could take advantage of the situation. After the incident, the patient could blame himself or herself for the assault. They could also be left with a sense of disbelief that a doctor could violate a patient’s trust in that manner.

State Boards of Medicine take allegations of sexual assault seriously. They can suspend the doctor’s license for the length of time the particular state’s law allows. At the end of the suspension period, the doctor’s license may be reinstated by the Board of Healing Arts. Of course, that assumes the doctor did not face a prosecution for a crime. Many times the doctor receives the benefit of the doubt if he or she admits to a problem, confronts the problem, and take the necessary steps to prevent recidivism. The investigative reporters found that in Kansas and Georgia, 2/3s of all physicians disciplined for sexual misconduct were allowed to resume the practice of medicine. In some instances, the Board of Healing Arts, the accused physician, and the victim reached private settlements. Consequently, the information does not become public.

Some sexual predators are brought to justice. For instance, a physician’s assistant who worked that the VA Hospital in Leavenworth faces criminal charges and his employer is facing a civil lawsuit based on the sexual misconduct of the individual.

You Deserve Zealous Representation No Matter What Allegations You Face

If you are facing professional discipline, Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger can help. Attorney Sanger takes great pride in representing professionals facing licensing discipline. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a consultation.