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Sexual Misconduct Amongst Physicians and the AMA’s Stand

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Sep 25, 2017

When you go to your doctor, whether your general practitioner or a specialist, surely the last thing that you expect is to be a victim of sexual misconduct.  Unfortunately, although it is rarely discussed publicly, sexual misconduct is a serious problem amongst medical providers, and both patients and other doctors may be the victims. To be sure, the American Medical Association (AMA) recently announced that it would no longer tolerate sexual misconduct by physicians when that misconduct was against other physicians and when it occurred at a medical conference. But the AMA has failed to address predators who violate other victims – their patients.

Sexual Misconduct Amongst Physicians

According to an article published by Medscape, during a study period of January 2003 to September 2013, there were a total of 1,039 physicians who were reported to a national database as a result of sexual misconduct. The study also found that of these reported physicians, about 75 percent were only disciplined by state medical boards, but did not result in any criminal charges. This is despite the fact that in the majority of the cases where state medical boards took action, the acts of misconduct were serious enough for penalties such as a restriction or revocation of a medical license.

It is important to note that misconduct is not just between physicians; physician-patient sexual misconduct occurs as well. To be sure, CNN published an article summarizing a yearlong investigation on cases on physician sexual abuse, which uncovered thousands of instances of misconduct.

What’s to Be Done?

How physicians should be penalized when they are charged with misconduct is a question that’s up for debate, with some finding that a penalty or warning is fair, and others believing the revocation of a medical license is appropriate. One man who falls into the latter category is Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., who told reporters that he believes that if someone is convicted of a sexual violation, they should lose their ability to have patient contact, meaning that their medical license should be revoked. He does not think that exceptions should be made.

When Sexual Misconduct Constitutes Malpractice

Not only are unwanted sexual advances and acts of sexual misconduct potentially illegal acts, they are also a type of medical malpractice when they occur between doctor and patient. This is because sexual assault/misconduct involving a patient is a breach of the medical standard of care, and could lead to both physical and psychological harm for a patient.

How Our Experienced Attorneys Can Help

At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our experienced medical malpractice lawyers are just as shocked by the rates of doctor-patient sexual misconduct as you are. If you are a victim of physical sexual misconduct and have suffered harm, our attorneys may be able to help you bring forth a case to seek damages for your losses. To learn more, contact our Philadelphia injury attorneys for a free consultation today.

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