Female Doctors Face Growing Sexual Harassment From Patients

Female doctors make up half of the entire medical community and more are graduating every day. However, many face a growing trend of sexual harassment. Yet, no one is informing women how to handle these acts perpetrated by peers, supervisors, and/or patients.

About Sexual Harassment

In 2017, close to 13,000 Americans filed sexual harassment complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There are different forms of sexual harassment. Sometimes, this creates a hostile work environment when there is severe and ongoing sexually offensive behavior. There are different liability rules. However, federal, state and municipal laws clearly prohibit harassment based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Female Doctors & Sexual Harassment

Compared with trainees of the scientific and engineering disciplines, female medical trainees report higher rates of sexual harassment. Female doctors and sexual harassment is not just training but also in clinical practice. In fact, 1 in 4 physicians report patient sexual harassment.  Also, the rate of harassment is four times greater than male physicians. Yet, the prevalence of this has not been discussed. Organizations do not put protections for doctors in place either. One form of patient-perpetrated sexual harassment, for example, involves the patient making false claims about the physician.

Combating Harassment

Experts also recommend that sexual harassment by patients be dealt with directly and proactively. Clear written guidelines and policies of behavior should be available. These must support the female doctors and address the common types of harassment including:

  • Comments regarding physical appearance
  • Sending sexual texts, pictures, or emails
  • Sexual innuendos
  • Sexual propositions
  • Unwanted physical contact (eg, touching, hugging, or groping)
  • Self-fondling by patient
  • Accusing the physician of making sexual advances

Additionally, female doctors need to report sexual harassment, too. This is important even with conditions of potential mental illness or post-traumatic stress disorder. The more people know the significance of this issue, the more medical facilities will work to stop it.

Sexual Harassment Attorney

Therefore, if you have experienced sexual harassment in any form in the workplace, you should contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible. If the harassment has not stopped after making a formal complaint with your employer, consulting a harassment lawyer is your best option. Your attorney will be able to provide further guidance and help build a case to end the harassment.

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