Have you ever heard someone tell you, “I think my doctor touched me inappropriately. What should I do?” It’s a scary thought but it needs to be addressed as a woman.
If your doctor is guilty of inappropriate touching, it is definitely wrong. All doctors are legally and ethically required to act in a certain way when they are with their patients. This type of situation can be extremely difficult for women especially when it comes to getting a Pap smear exam. Going to the gynecologist is not usually on the top of a woman’s list of favorite things to do. It is a very vulnerable experience and it is important that the doctor is extremely professional.
These are some red flags to look for if you feel your doctor is guilty of inappropriate touching:
During the exam, there should be a nurse in the room. This not only protects you, but the physician as well. You can always ask for a chaperone. If you ask and it is denied, refuse the exam and get another doctor.
You should be asked to disrobe the part of the body the doctor has to examine. Many doctors us a 2-piece cover up for breast and pelvic exams. If not, a sheet is given to cover, the part not being examined. It is never appropriate to be left exposed.
Any sexual, lewd or suggestive behavior is not appropriate. If this should occur, you can speak to the doctor and stand up for yourself. If you do not feel comfortable, speak to the manager or hospital administrator. You can also report the doctor to the medical board.
To remind you again, anytime you feel you have been touched inappropriately, you need to report it. No part of the exam should feel sexual. If you have a gynecological exam and the doctor wants a quick follow-up exam, there needs to be a reason. Ask the doctor to explain why.
Doctors are ethically required to avoid initiating social relationships with patients. This includes contact on Facebook or other social media. Before a doctor can begin a social relationship with a patient, the doctor-patient relationship must be officially ended.
A patient’s privacy must always be respected. This includes not talking about the patient with non-professionals, not sharing gossip, and never taking photos or videos without a patient’s written permission. A doctor’s office should have you sign forms for HIPPA which protect your privacy rights.
No matter what exam you have all physicians have to uphold these basic requirements with their patients.