Should Doctors Have to Inform Patients Before Doing Pelvic Exams? (Pt 1)

August 27, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
a close up of a doctor's chest. He is wearing a white lab coat and carrying a stethoscope.
Doctors are very resistant to the proposed law that would make signed consent forms and full explanations of pelvic exams mandatory.

There was a time when all someone had to do to be taken very seriously was to put on a white lab coat and drape a stethoscope around their neck. Why? Because for many decades doctors were seen as infallible. Their word was law. Their opinion was the last line drawn in the sand. But all of that is changing in the wake of the Nassar scandal

Doctors are no longer viewed as the trusted and valued community leaders they once were. Now, for many people, the idea of being alone in a room with a doctor is unnerving, if not downright scary. For a growing number of people, primarily women, the idea of having a male doctor examining their privates is no different than being sexually assaulted. It’s a drastic turn of events.

How do we address this growing concern in the future?

Michigan State University, the organization at the heart of the Nassar case, has come under incredible pressure in the wake of the trial. After the investigation revealed corruption and cover-ups at numerous levels, the university is being required to step up to the plate and change the way they handle sexual assault and possible sexual abuse in future. One of those solutions is the ‘chaperone police.’

MSU has agreed to establish a chaperone policy, which would require that a member of a health care team be available to attend any sensitive medical examinations as a witness. Patients would be allowed to request that their chaperones be a certain gender. This voluntary agreement was made between MSU and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) in the wake of a civil rights investigation.

Will chaperones reduce the chance of future sexual assault by doctors?

Obviously, nothing is guaranteed in life. However, having a witness present during medical exams involving ‘private’ parts of the patient’s body will make it a lot less likely. In a statement to the press, Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS said that “Perpetrating and tolerating sexual abuse of patients is not only a heinous breach of trust, it’s against federal law.”

“This is a heartbreaking case in which a person used his position of authority as doctor to commit heinous crimes against women and girls.” Severino explained. “Hopefully, we move forward, and (the voluntary agreement) will be a model of what proper policy should be, so that something good can hopefully come out of this tragic situation.”

Sexual abuse allegations are devastating to a doctor’s career!

It’s a slippery slope now. Obviously, doctors who’ve abused patients shouldn’t be allowed to practice, and should be prosecuted for their crimes. But there’s a difference between allegations and convictions. What happens to a doctor who’s accused of sexual abuse by a patient who didn’t feel comfortable when their doctor examined them, but they weren’t actually assaulted? 

Their reputation is destroyed and their career is ruined. Even if they’re later proven innocent, the damage is done. That’s why we do what we do – because understand how important it is to protect not your rights and your freedom, but your reputation and your career as well! If you’ve been accused of child sexual abuse, call 866 766 5245 immediately and let our skilled and experienced child abuse defense attorneys help you.