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American Journal of Bioethics.

Physician Sexual Assault: The Moral Imperative for Gender Equity in Medicine

Prepare to cringe as you read this issue’s article entitled “Serious Ethical Violations in Medicine” by DuBois, Anderson, and colleagues. In their analysis of 280 physician misconduct cases between 2008 and 2016, they focused only on cases where behavior promoted patient harm: when physicians overprescribed opioids, performed unnecessary procedures, or engaged in inappropriate sexual acts. In this set, they found 95 physicians who sexually assaulted at least one patient: undeniably criminal behavior. The #MeToo movement has increasingly shed light on women’s lived experiences of assault, and it should come as no surprise that 100% of the cases DuBois and colleagues found were perpetrated by men, and greater than 85% of victims were women. Women already live in fear of men, which not inappropriately includes their male physicians. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines sexual assault in the health care space as a “never event,” an event that should never occur and is always preventable. Yet while sexual assault by physicians should never happen, it is nowhere near rare enough. The lack of clearly defined consequences for physicians who violate such obvious norms demonstrates a lack of sufficient safeguards to protect patients and maintain public trust.

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Volume 19, Issue 1
January 2019

Target Articles.

Serious Ethical Violations in Medicine: A Statistical and Ethical Analysis of 280 Cases in the United States From 2008–2016 James M. DuBois, Emily E. Anderson, John T. Chibnall, Jessica Mozersky & Heidi A. Walsh
Genomic Contextualism: Shifting the Rhetoric of Genetic Exceptionalism Nanibaa' A. Garrison, Kyle B. Brothers, Aaron J. Goldenberg & John A. Lynch