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4 Red Flags That May Indicate Sexual Abuse in a Healthcare Setting

November 19, 2021  ·  By HM&M


Doctors and medical professionals are supposed to be among the most trustworthy professionals. After all, patients seek out medical experts to ensure they’re living the healthiest lives possible and to find solutions to all manner of ailments.

That’s one of the key reasons sexual abuse at the hands of medical professionals is so unconscionable: If patients can’t trust medical experts and staff with their health and safety, who can they trust with their physical health?

Unfortunately, medical abuse in hospitals is not uncommon. That’s why it’s essential to recognize potential signs of sexual abuse in a healthcare setting as soon as possible—for yourself or your loved ones.

Many times, those sexually abused by medical professionals may not realize they were abused. While that may be hard to believe, the medical professionals who commit these crimes are often adept at disguising their abuse. And, in some cases, the abuse can continue for years, even if others in their office know of their abuse.

Here are the red flags to look out for if you suspect sexual abuse by a medical professional.

Sexual Abuse Red Flag #1: The Doctor Doesn’t Explain the Procedure or Answer Questions

Medical jargon is hard enough to navigate with the doctor explaining terms and processes while patients are stressed about the outcome or procedure itself. It’s made more complicated (and worrisome) if the doctor remains tight-lipped throughout the procedure.

Whether you enter a doctor’s office for a routine checkup or a more complex procedure, it is their duty to explain what they’re doing, especially if you have questions along the way.

If a doctor refuses to answer your questions, dismisses your concerns, or makes you feel violated in any way, you have every right to terminate the procedure, whether or not they agree.

It is your body, and your decision.

Sexual Abuse Red Flag #2: The Doctor Examines You Without Gloves or Unannounced

While some procedures require a doctor’s examination of private areas, at no point should they remove gloves—let alone begin the procedure without them. Doing so is not only unsanitary, but a major red flag.

Moreover, if you or a loved one enter a doctor’s office for a procedure and they begin an examination that was not discussed prior, it’s a blatant sign that they are not acting accordingly. This is one of the most apparent signs that the doctor is committing sexual abuse and will proceed further if not stopped.

Sexual Abuse Red Flag #3: The Doctor Asks Inappropriate Questions About Your Sexual History

If you’ve scheduled an appointment with a doctor or sexual health professional to discuss your sexual activity or sexual health concerns, it can be difficult to discern the difference between invasive and inappropriate questions and questions that are simply difficult to answer. However, any medical professional will be able to explain why they’re asking these questions and be willing to move on if you find those questions too uncomfortable to answer.

Some doctors, though, may ask off-the-wall questions about your or your loved one’s sexual history that often lead up to sexual abuse. If you suspect that this is the case with your or your loved one’s physician, end the visit immediately and report the incident to the hospital, office, your state’s medical licensing board, or an experienced sexual abuse law firm.

Sexual Abuse Red Flag #4: The Doctor Refuses to Allow Another Person in the Room

Adults often enter doctors’ offices alone. However, many adults prefer to have loved ones attend visits, especially for emotionally or physically difficult visits. Virtually all doctors will allow another person to be present during the exam or consultation if the patient wishes, especially for younger or older patients.

Furthermore, a nurse or another medical professional could be present during some appointments, too, especially if requested by the patient.

If your or your loved one’s doctor denies another person entry during your exam, that’s a potential red flag.

If a doctor cannot provide a satisfying answer as to why you need to be alone in a room with them, you have every right to leave. This is especially true if your child or teenager is the one whom the doctor wants to be alone with—a doctor requesting to be alone with a minor is a major red flag.

Turn to an Experienced Sexual Abuse Law Firm to Understand Your Options

Sexual abuse takes many different forms, and it might be difficult to understand what happened to you if you’ve been a victim. Regardless, no form of sexual inappropriateness by a doctor is acceptable—and you have every right to pursue a lawsuit against a medical professional who commits sexual abuse against you.

Hurley McKenna & Mertz have helped thousands of sexual abuse survivors understand their options and cases, navigate the legal system, and get the justice and compensation they deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation to learn how we can help you.

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