Reporting sexual misconduct by medical professionals

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Doctors/Healthcare Providers

A trip to the doctor’s office is supposed to be a step toward healing, not a violation of trust. Still, there is a shocking reality that sexual abuse by medical practitioners exists and is a more common occurrence than people realize. This abuse can take various forms, leaving emotional and psychological scars on survivors.

Prevalence of sexual abuse in health care

Studies reveal a disturbing prevalence of sexual misconduct within the medical field, with almost five percent of women and two percent of men experiencing sexual misconduct by health care professionals. This data underestimates the true scope of the problem, as many incidents go unreported due to fear, shame and the power imbalance inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.

What constitutes sexual misconduct in the medical field?

Sexual misconduct by a health care provider not only falls under outright assault, but it also encompasses any behavior that exploits the patient’s trust and vulnerability for sexual gratification. This includes:

  • Inappropriate touching: Examinations without justification exceed medical necessity or touching areas near private parts.
  • Sexual comments or advances: Comments about a patient’s body in a sexual manner, propositions for sexual acts or pressuring a patient into sexual activity.
  • Sexual harassment: Repeatedly making sexual jokes or innuendos, displaying pornography, or creating a hostile environment.

Consent may never be genuinely possible in a doctor-patient interaction. The power dynamic heavily favors the medical professional and a patient’s agreement may not be valid under these circumstances.

Resources and hope for survivors

If a doctor or health care provider has sexually abused you, you are not alone. Experiencing sexual abuse in the hands of someone you trusted can be traumatizing and having people to talk to about it is crucial. That could be a trusted friend, a family member or a therapist. You may also try calling sexual assault hotlines for confidential support.

Reporting sexual misconduct to authorities

You may file a complaint with the hospital or clinic where the abuse occurred and with your state’s medical licensing board. You may even contact law enforcement or legal professionals to pursue criminal charges, especially when an incident involves young children.

You have rights, and you must fight for them. The road to healing is a personal journey, but resources are available to help you reclaim your power and rebuild your trust. You are a survivor; you deserve justice and those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.