Are male doctors sexually harassed by patients?

Symbol Table for Non Verbal communication with...

Symbol Table for Non Verbal communication with patients (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’d like to know the answer. I’d like to know for two reasons: A) to ensure we look at the issue from both sides of the fence and, B) while I’ve heard of male doctors being penalised professionally for inappropriate relationships (or worse) with female patients, I’ve not heard of the reverse.

A survey of Australian doctors has found that more than 50 per cent of female  practitioners have been sexually harassed by a patient, with some respondents  saying they had avoided examinations and after-hours shifts because of offensive  patient behaviour.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/sexual-abuse-rife-towards-female-gps-20131006-2v2p0.html#ixzz2h7r5pGy0

This is disturbing. It is bad enough to be groped in a bar by an opportunistic stranger, but to be groped at work by anyone must be horrendous. Work is SUPPOSED to be a safe environment, but let’s face it a parade of strangers (patients) is hard to police. A hospital or medical clinic can’t do a character check of everyone who walks through the door.

Have I ever thought a male doctor attractive? Of course I have, I’m not blind! Have I ever “felt up” a doctor while he is examining me? No, because I respect the doctor’s role in the consultation. As an accountant, I don’t expect a client to grope me over an analysis of the profit  and loss statement either.

A “drunk as a skunk” patient in the emergency department on a Friday night? Yes, I suppose that is part of the risks of working in ED – drunks are unpredictable and irrational at the best of times. I suppose there may even be examples of females draping themselves over the cute male intern. If you are a cute male intern, please share your experiences! Patients with psychiatric disorders may potentially be equally inappropriate for medical reasons.

The rest of the population? No bloody excuse! Why would anyone think it OK to ask a female doctor if she “wants a bit” or expose their “bit” while being treated? Did these people mistake the hospital for the local brothel?

I had read recently about nurses seeking safer working conditions, I’ve read about ambulance staff being attacked on the job. Clearly treating our emergency services and medical personnel with appropriate respect for their efforts to help and treat us is beyond the reduced brain capacity of some.

Away from the hospital environment there is even less excuse. Most people don’t visit their local general practitioner drunk. What the hell goes on in their heads? “She’s a bit of orrrright, might get off on this one.” Probably while getting a shot for an STD.

How were these people raised? Who taught them females (irrespective of profession) were “fair game” in any setting? I am reminded of the Australian Defence Force treatment of women. I have the same questions. I don’t like what these experiences say about our social development.

I don’t know how many female doctors we have in Australia, but 180 responded to the survey. My gut feel is that is a low participation rate but I assume it is a statistically valid sample or the report would not have been published.

It isn’t just the sexual harassment. According to the report, female doctors often change their working patterns, which can result in less income and less career relevant experience.

I’d like to hear the male doctors’ experiences.

4 comments on “Are male doctors sexually harassed by patients?

  1. You raise some interesting questions, Robyn. You are probably aware, that there is a report out that a very high percentage of doctors are contemplating suicide.
    Is it that doctors should be taught more patient skills and have less working hours?


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