Doctors take an oath to heal without inflicting pain, suffering or death of their patients. The oath represents a sacred trust and commitment to patients’ health and safety. Perhaps in no medical specialty is that trust more important than in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN).
By nature of the practice, OB/GYNs are tasked with helping women maintain the health of their reproductive system, which means the practice places patients in an extremely vulnerable position. Unfortunately, there are doctors who have violated that trust and crossed the line from conducting a medical exam to committing a sex crime. There have also been patients who have wrongfully accused innocent doctors of sexual battery.
If you are a gynecologist, how can you protect yourself from being accused of a sex crime?
Intent: The Most Important Element in Sex Crimes
In California, sexual battery is a crime under California Penal Code Section 243.4. The basic elements of the crime are:
- You touched an intimate part (the sexual organs, anus, groin, buttocks of any person, or the breasts of a female) of another;
- While that person was unlawfully restrained by you or an accomplice; and
- The touching was against the will of that person touched; and
- The touching was for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse
It is also considered sexual battery if you fraudulently said the touching was for professional purposes, such as a medical exam.
If you are an OB/GYN who is accused of this crime, the important element that the prosecutor must prove is that your actions were for the purpose of fulfilling your own sexual desires and not for the purpose of maintaining your patient’s health. This can be very difficult to prove.
How Can I Protect Myself and Make My Patients Feel Safe?
Just being accused of a crime could be devastating for a medical professional. The Medical Board of California will take steps to prevent you from practicing medicine even if you have not been convicted. The Attorney General of California will move the court to impose a bail condition upon you that prohibits you from seeing patients until your case is resolved.
That is why it is critical for OB/GYNs to consider the possibility of an accusation before it ever happens. Here are several steps you can take to reduce the chances of being accused of this crime:
- Explain the details of the procedure you are about to perform so that your patient is not surprised by your actions.
- Give your patient the option to have a nurse or physician’s assistant present to serve as a witness.
- Expose no more of the patient’s body than is necessary to conduct the examination.
- Be friendly to your patients, but keep the conversation focused on the procedure while conducting the examination. Straying into personal conversation could be interpreted as showing a sexual interest in your patient.
- Do not remove your gloves until the procedure has been completed.
- The American Medical Association forbids engaging in a romantic relationship with your patients. If you do feel an attraction to a patient, you should refer her to another doctor.
Call the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich If You are Accused of a Crime
If you are a gynecologist, a criminal conviction can have a huge impact on your personal and professional life. That is why you should contact a skilled sex crimes attorney if you are being accused of a sex crime. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending people accused of sex crimes. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex defense attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.