By Atlanta Journal Constitution via New York Times
ATLANTA — Sexual abuse by doctors against patients is surprisingly widespread, yet the fragmented medical oversight system shrouds offenders’ actions in secrecy, allowing many to continue to treat patients, an unprecedented national investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.
The AJC obtained and analyzed more than 100,000 medical board orders relating to disciplinary action against doctors since 1999. Among those, the newspaper identified more than 3,100 doctors sanctioned after being accused of sexual misconduct; more than 2,400 of the doctors had violations involving patients. Of those, half still have active medical licenses today, the newspaper found.
These cases represent only a fraction of the incidents in which doctors sexually abused patients. Many remain obscured, the newspaper said, because state regulators and hospitals sometimes handle sexual misconduct cases in secret, and because some public orders are so vaguely worded that patients would not know that a sexual offense occurred.
What’s more, even though the profession and its national lobby, the American Medical Association, condemn physician sexual misconduct and say consent is no defense, they have remained relatively silent on the issue, helping to ensure that it stays out of the public eye.
The newspaper’s analysis of up to 16 years of public records showed sexual improprieties and misconduct involving doctors of all types: psychiatrists seducing the emotionally fragile; family practitioners fondling minors; anesthesiologists molesting sedated patients; obstetricians raping women who had come to them for care.
Violators included some of the country’s…