Going to the doctors is something we all do. Whether it’s once a year for a checkup or when a stubborn cold won’t go away, we’ve all walked into a doctor’s office trusting them without a second thought. We’ve been taught from a young age that doctors are professionals who want to help us with any problems we have, both physically and mentally. But what if that trust is not well-deserved?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has released a new report that shows an upsetting pattern happening throughout our country. Doctors are actually abusing children and patients.
There were over 100,000 documents analyzed during the investigation that accused doctors of sexual misconduct since 1999. Over 3,000 medicals professionals were found to be punished for their sexual misconduct, and out of the 2,400 doctors accused by their patients, half of them still have their medical licenses.
Um, what? No one wants to think about their doctor having been accused of a terrible thing and still being able to practice. Other doctors were accused of a variety of crimes that aren’t any better: child pornography, sexual assault and sexual harassment of employees. Unfortunately, many of these doctors also kept their practices.
Georgia and Kansas are states in which two thirds of doctors who were publicly punished for their sexual misconduct still kept their jobs. It’s evident that medical boards didn’t want the public to know about these events. Medical boards went to far lengths to keep these appalling records hidden. Records were taken down from their websites and documents were vague about what crimes had been committed.
By law, only 11 states are required to have medical facilities reach out to law enforcement when adult patients are sexually abused by doctors. The report states that although doctors are taken in by police, their usual punishment isn’t real justice. Doctors who are guilty of sexual crimes are given therapy and then are able to go back to work.
The report has caused many sexually abused patients to speak out about their experiences on Facebook.
The report states, “While the vast majority of the nation’s 900,000 doctors do not sexually abuse patients, the AJC found the phenomenon is akin to the priest scandal: It doesn’t necessarily happen every day, but it happens far more often than anyone has acknowledged.”
“Over and over again, records show, predatory physicians took advantage of a doctor’s special privilege — the daily practice of asking trusting people to disrobe in a private room and permit themselves to be touched.”
The report also included advice from David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, who urged medical facilities to release information about sexual abuse and bring the perpetrators to law enforcement.
“We are so reliant on [doctors], we are so helpless and vulnerable and literally in pain often times when we go in there. We just have to trust them,” Clohessy said. “So, when they cross the boundary and their hands go into the wrong places, we are in shock, we are paralyzed, we’re confused, we’re scared.
“We just do not want to believe, first of all, that a doctor is capable of this, and secondly that their colleagues and supervisors will not address this immediately and effectively when we report it.”