Policy Statement on Physician Sexual Misconduct
- The Board will not tolerate physician sexual misconduct and is committed to protecting the public from such misconduct.
- Allegations of physician sexual misconduct will be dealt with fairly and effectively.
- Once a finding of sexual misconduct has been made, penalties shall be appropriate to the circumstances of each case, consistent with the egregiousness of the misconduct and designed to protect the public.
- The Board shall encourage the public to report physician sexual misconduct and the medical community to fulfill its legal and ethical obligations to report such misconduct.
Physician sexual misconduct is behavior that exploits the physician-patient relationship in a sexual way. It includes verbal or physical behavior with a patient whether it occurs in a medical setting or otherwise. It may also involve nonpatients such as office staff, co-workers or patients' relatives. The inappropriate behavior may include, among other things, making sexually suggestive comments, using the physician-patient relationship to solicit a date, broaching sexual matters when sexual function is not relevant, examining a patient's breasts, genitals or any other body part when the contact is not medically appropriate, providing drugs in exchange for sexual favors or engaging in sexual intercourse with a patient.
A patient cannot give meaningful consent to sexual contact due to the position of trust and the disparity of power in the physician-patient relationship.
Sexual behavior with a former patient is inappropriate when the sexual involvement results from or appears to result from the use or exploitation of the trust, knowledge or power obtained from the professional relationship. The American Psychiatric Association considers sexual behavior by a psychiatrist with a former patient unethical.
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct is required to investigate all complaints. Any person may report professional misconduct. Physicians have a legal and ethical obligation to report instances of sexual misconduct by other physicians.
The Board is convinced that education is an effective way to prevent physician sexual misconduct. It encourages medical societies, hospital medical staffs, residency programs and medical schools to provide education regarding sexual misconduct, its harm to patients and what behaviors are inappropriate. The Board is also committed to promoting education of the public regarding physician sexual misconduct and the procedures for reporting such misconduct.
Reporting Prevents Further Public Harm
To report physician sexual misconduct or for further information call 1-800-663-6114