Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From my experience

As usual, click on the title for the link to the article.

A New Jersey doctor has been charged, and may continue to be charged, with sexually abusing several of his patients. His attorney calls the claims "very questionable." He also poses the question as to why these women continued to see him if he were molesting them. Then, the article quotes a male patient who says HE was never molested and so the doctor must be incapable of such behavior, and then a male co-worker who says that the doctor ALWAYS left the exam room door open when examining patients and that the walls were so thin that if such molesting took place, everyone would have heard it. (Can we say, privacy issues?)

First of all, I have had several clients who were reporting being sexually abused by a doctor. In all of those cases, initially, the molestation came as part of "medical touching." In almost all of the cases, the clients had to wonder if the doctor really meant to touch them "there" or was it an accident? (For example, I've had a client whose doctor wanted to do a breast exam when she'd sprained her ankle. We also had a physical therapist who would masturbate patients while in rather cold, medical terms, explaining that this was a "test" for nerve functioning and response.)

Just with other victims, the patients leave feeling embarrassed, and often questioning their own perceptions. We put a tremendous faith and trust in doctors - we have to for our own good. But, it's also a tremendously vulnerable position to be alone in a room with a person you may not know at all and be undressed and allowing them to touch you. Also, there is often a fine line between medically appropriate touching and creepy.

And, anything a defense attorney says to the news media should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism -- they are, after all, paid to cast doubt on the charges and claims for their clients.


Shira said...

I've never had this happen with a doctor (although once I was given an entirely unnecessary pelvic exam when my symptoms clearly indicated gastroenteritis, but I think that had more to do with modern medicine's assumption that anything wrong with a woman must relate back to her uterus rather than a specific doctor's malfeasance). I recently did have a run-in with a med student, however, who waited until I was incapacitated to try to extort fellatio in exchange for vicodin. I weep for his future patients, who may not have the option to say 'no' to his demands because they actually need the medication he's withholding.

CrisisWorker said...

Sadly, I think all too many women have had similar experiences like yours -- but didn't know where to or if they could report such horrid behavior. And, you're right - this guy is probably just starting on a career of whole new ways to exploit other people.