Physicians, despite their contributions to the health of thousands of patients over the course of their careers, are fallible people who make mistakes. Not only are there personality quirks to speak of among physicians, but also sometimes lack of good judgment and, on occasion, poor character. As with any population of individuals, there is going to be a certain subset of the population which engages in wrongful, or even criminal, conduct.
Patients, of course, expect that physicians who engage in such conduct will be appropriately dealt with by their employers and state medical boards, receiving discipline as necessary. According to a recent report, though, despicable behavior such as sexual abuse of patients too often goes unaddressed. The report laments that too many physicians are allowed to continue in their practice despite having adequate grounds to receive discipline for such behavior.
Some commentators have noted that there are a variety of reasons why physicians who sexually abuse their patients are not hit harder with disciplinary sanctions. These reasons, it is contended, include: failure to report abuse; covering up of the issue by state medical boards; failure of state medical boards to impose adequate punishments; lax disciplinary policies which give physicians opportunities to repair the situation; and physician “state-hopping” which allows them to continue practicing.
There is bound to be a wide variety of reasons that physicians remain in practice after being accused of sexual misconduct with a patient. Charts and statistics, though, are one thing and evaluating an individual physician’s case is quite another.
In our next post, we’ll pick back up on this topic and the importance of working with an experienced attorney when faced with allegations of sexual abuse of misconduct as a physician.