Too many people end up in devastating scenarios when they think they’re going to receive routine healthcare. Many doctors abuse their position of power and respect with inappropriate comments, actions, and/or advances towards their patients.
People who suffer sexual abuse at the hands of doctors are often left confused. They might convince themselves that what happened was an accident or a fluke, and nobody would believe them even if they did come forward. Others may not even know that what occurred was abuse.
Here’s the bottom line: No form of sexual inappropriateness by a doctor is acceptable.
But, if you’re still unsure, there are some key indicators that your doctor may have been inappropriate. They include:
- The doctor doesn’t explain the procedure or adequately answer questions about it, leaving you feeling violated.
- The doctor examines you without gloves, or without previous discussion about what would occur.
- The doctor asks inappropriate questions about your sexual history.
- The doctor refuses to let anyone else in the room, such as a nurse or loved one (this may be impacted by COVID protocol).
When you’re ready to take a step towards seeking closure and holding your doctor accountable for sexual abuse, you have options for how to report them.
Report the Abuse to the Police
You can call your local police to report sexual assault directly to law enforcement. What happens next will likely involve a conversation with one or more police officers. Because they need to file a detailed report, they will ask you personal questions that might be difficult to answer.
Depending on the nature and timing of your experience, the police may encourage you to go to a hospital and get a sexual assault medical forensic exam, also called a rape kit.
It’s up to you whether you want to press charges against the doctor. If you do, law enforcement will build out their report in greater detail by contacting the doctor in question and gathering as much evidence as possible before any charges are determined.
This process will begin rather quickly, but it could ultimately take days or weeks before it’s wrapped up. If the doctor is charged, court proceedings may take years. This is normal, and while it might be difficult to be involved in a long process, there are resources available to help you heal along the way.
Report the Abuse to the Medical Center, Doctor’s Office, or Hospital
Another option, which you can take instead of or in tandem with reporting the abuse to law enforcement, is contacting the medical organization with which your doctor is affiliated.
In most instances, the medical organization will have its own internal process for handling reports of sexual abuse. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that most hospitals and medical groups will have a human resources director and/or a medical director who will handle your report, likely by initiating a formal investigative process.
Hospitals and medical organizations are required to handle sexual abuse claims with respect and urgency.
Report the Abuse to Your State’s Medical Board
You can also report any sexual abuse or inappropriate conduct to your state’s medical board. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that each state’s board is unique in how they operate and how they process reports, though it’s their job to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken.
Depending on the circumstances, the board may even revoke the doctor’s license, ensuring they’re unable to legally practice medicine going forward—and preventing future abuse in a medical facility.
If You’d Like to Pursue Legal Justice, You Can
You have a right to file a claim against a medical organization if you were sexually abused by a doctor. In some cases, the medical organization may not have done enough to prevent it, and there have even been circumstances where organizations intentionally cover up abuse instead of carrying out appropriate discipline.
You can trust Hurley McKenna & Mertz to represent you. We’ve helped thousands of sexual abuse survivors seek justice against their abusers and we can help you, too. For a confidential and free consultation, just reach out.