Can medical pelvic exams be illegal?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2023 | Other Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, misconduct of a sexual nature by professionals we entrust with our care is more common in the state of Florida than one would hope. This can include misconduct by surgeons, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. While one would hope this kind of conduct would be illegal in all cases, that is not necessarily true. Sometimes what is legal or not legal exists in a gray area that must be decided in court.

A legal gray area

While it may be unbelievable to some, certain medical professionals may be shielded from punishment for certain kinds of sexual misconduct by the law. One example of possible sexual misconduct by medical professionals that may technically be legal is a pelvic exam performed without a patient’s permission. This is often done while a patient is under anesthesia, and it has even been done by medical students. It strangely happens more often than one would expect.

Sexual battery in Florida

Still, the line between something like a pelvic exam performed without permission and the legal standard of sexual abuse may be extremely thin. There have been cases of very similar misconduct by doctors and other medical staff that have lead to convictions in court. Sexual battery in Florida contains the following elements:

  • penetration of a sexual nature
  • lack of consent from the victim
  • possible use of an object to create some form of sexual contact

Aggravating factors of sexual battery in Florida include:

  • the perpetrator having a position of authority over the victim
  • threats of violence or personal harm
  • the use of force
  • physical injury resulting in disability or disfigurement
  • the victim being incapacitated
  • the victim being a minor

Many of the elements of sexual battery as well as aggravating factors for the crime may be present if a patient was penetrated by a doctor without their consent. Due to the legal gray area of lack of patient consent for many pelvic exams performed on patients, perpetrators may take advantage of the situation to abuse patients. The lack of consent for many cases certainly can add questions to what many in the medical profession would otherwise argue is a legal exam.