Sexual Harassment or Malpractice – An Important Distinction in Gynecology Cases?

by Savannah on July 8, 2013

People develop a special rapport with their doctors. They trust their physicians to keep intimate details about their health a secret; they also trust their doctors to view their unclothed bodies objectively and in a professional manner. When a doctor crosses the line and fails to treat a patient in a respectful and professional manner, that patient may wonder whether or not to pursue charges against the doctor. What kind of suit to pursue can be better determined when one knows what is deemed acceptable behavior and which behaviors are unethical or unprofessional. 

Failure to Treat Symptoms Accurately

Patients could file a medical malpractice lawsuit if their doctors fail to address their symptoms properly and in a timely manner. If a person visits his or her physician repeatedly for the same set of symptoms, yet the physician does not take the person seriously, delays treatment, or recklessly misdiagnoses the symptoms, that individual could have a basis for a malpractice lawsuit. That case could be enhanced if the patient suffered a permanent injury or illness because of the doctor’s negligence.

Failure to Diagnose Illness Due to Lack of Information

On the other hand, if a patient purposely withholds information from the doctor and subsequently is diagnosed incorrectly, that patient has no grounds to sue his or her physician. Maryland malpractice law, for instance, stipulates that patients must be forthcoming with information that is relevant to their symptoms. Maryland medical malpractice attorneys would advise that a doctor cannot be blamed for misdiagnosing someone if that individual did not disclose all of the necessary information.

Sexual Comments on Anatomy or Behaviors

If a doctor makes sexual comments about a person’s body or activities in which he or she engages, that individual could file a sexual harassment suit against the physician. Maryland law stipulates that doctors, as with any person in a position of authority and trust, are prohibited from making any type of sexual remarks to or about patients, even if they make those comments in private conversations away from their offices. A patient who is subjected to these comments could file a sexual harassment lawsuit and seek repercussion from the doctor.

Trading Medical Treatment for Sexual Favors

Patients who are asked to trade sex for medical treatment or drugs have a basis to file both a medical malpractice and a sexual harassment case. Some physicians ask patients for sexual favors in exchange for narcotics like codeine or Demerol, or sex in exchange for medical procedures, such as plastic surgery or liposuction. This exchange violates Maryland’s medical laws, and doctors who proposition patients in such a manner could face fines and imprisonment. People who are subject to such propositions could file both kinds of lawsuits against their medical providers.

Failure to Educate about Treatment Risks

Doctors have the duty to tell their patients about any possible side effects of the prescribed medical treatments. When they purposely do not tell people what can happen if they take a certain medication or undergo a medical treatment, these medical providers could be sued. Patients have the right to make informed decisions about their care. Doctors are required by law to educate patients on the risks and benefits of every treatment prescribed for patients’ care.

People trust their doctors to have their best interests at heart. Doctors who violate this trust may be sued in court for sexual harassment or medical malpractice. 

Savannah Bobo is a creative/technical writer from Atlanta, GA who writes this article to support awareness of women’s rights—both health and legal-wise—when it comes to gynecological treatment. Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Price Benowitz LLP are experienced in helping victims hold medical professionals accountable if their malfeasance or negligence caused their patients suffering.

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