The Disturbing Reality of Sexual Misconduct in the Healthcare System

We rely on our doctors and other medical providers to provide us with the best healthcare. Millions of Americans put their trust in these healthcare professionals everyday, under the assumption that they will put their best interests first and do no harm.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In 2016, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) released a report on a year-long investigation into sexual misconduct in healthcare across the country. The findings were disturbing, to say the least. The AJC found that 3,100 doctors had been publicly disciplined for sexual infractions, and 2,400 doctors were sanctioned for sexual infractions directly related to patients. Of these doctors, half of them still have active medical licenses.

Also disturbing is the culture of silence surrounding these offenses. In many cases, sexual misconduct was reported, and then medical boards gave the offending doctors a pass. Other times, prosecutors dismissed or reduced the charges, allowing the doctors to continue practicing and stay off sex offender registries. In some cases, doctors who have lost their license in one state have even been able to obtain a license in another state.  

Consent is not a Defense

It is important to understand that any sexual contact between a doctor and a patient is forbidden. It is never defensible to say the patient consented. Doctors are in a position of power over patients who are relying on the healthcare provider’s expertise. Thus, the patient is never ethically or legally able to consent in these situations.

What are California’s Laws Regarding Sexual Misconduct by Medical Professionals?

California has strict laws prohibiting inappropriate conduct by medical professionals. Section 729 of the California Business Code states that any physician, surgeon, psychotherapist, or alcohol and drug abuse counselor who engages in sexual relations with a patient or client, or former patient/client, is guilty of sexual exploitation. Moreover, sexual exploitation by a physician and surgeon, psychotherapist, or alcohol and drug abuse counselor is a public offense. It is punishable by jail time and/or a fine.

“Patients under the care of a healthcare professional are vulnerable. Under no circumstances is it appropriate for a doctor to engage in any sexual conduct with a patient. Anyone who has experienced such exploitation should seek legal counsel,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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