Sexual misconduct with patients is a common occurrence in clinical and institutional settings. Not all practitioners and providers have service and humanity on top of their minds. Many take advantage of the position of patients by indulging in sex crimes. But the risk is not one-sided. Healthcare professionals can face false allegations due to poor judgment or intentional acts of the patients. False sexual assault charges can be extremely distressing emotionally. Not to mention, they can damage the careers of doctors and providers, even if proved to be unfounded. It is crucial to know the right course of action if someone tries to frame you with such allegations. Here are the facts you must understand about false charges in clinical and institutional settings.
Implications of false allegations
The implications of allegations of sexual misconduct are dire for medical practitioners and healthcare providers. The police inform the medical association when they start the investigations. You can expect the association to take action even before the completion of the investigation. They may suspend your registration or impose conditions on it during the investigative process. The problem is bigger than you imagine as a complaint can take several months or even years before a solution comes by. It can affect your career and reputation in the long run, even if you are innocent.
Avoiding false sex crime allegations
As a healthcare provider, you are in a high-risk environment in the context of sex crime allegations. Since you have to examine patients physically in isolation, they may misconstrue your motives or even accuse you intentionally. You can do your best to avoid such risks in the first place. It makes sense to reach out to a sex crimes attorney to get advice on the matter. Likewise, you can talk to a colleague or the authorities in the medical association to ensure that you are on the right side of the law. Here are some ways to avoid false allegations.
Familiarize yourself with industry guidelines
There are some industry guidelines regarding patient examination and treatments. For example, intimate examinations include touching and checking sensitive areas such as breasts, genitalia, and rectum. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines of the association and be aware of the federal and local laws.
Get patient consent for examination
It is crucial to communicate with the patient to avoid any misunderstanding that may lead to a complaint. Explain the examination process, including touching and using equipment for checking intimate areas. Explaining the details and getting patient consent beforehand keep you in a safe place.
Allow an attendant
You can allow the patient to have an attendant such as a partner, relative, or friend present during the procedure. With this, you will have an impartial observer who can be called if the patient brings a false charge against you later. Likewise, you may have a health professional around if the patient does not bring along someone to accompany them.
Ensure comfort for the patient
At times, patients bring up false accusations only because they are not comfortable during the procedure. You can prevent such situations by ensuring comfort for them. Start by ensuring privacy to dress and undress before the examination. Steer clear of light-hearted jokes or personal comments as the patient can misinterpret them. Be thoroughly professional during the entire procedure. Stop right away if the patient asks you to, as you need to respect personal choices.
Maintain records of examination and treatment
Seasoned sex crime lawyers recommend that practitioners and providers maintain detailed records of examination and treatment for every patient. These records can serve as vital evidence in the event of a false allegation down the line. Written consent is crucial, though you must document the discussion leading to the consent. Keep records of the patient’s attendant or any other professional present during the examination as they can be a witness. Discuss your concerns with fellow practitioners and seek their inputs on the strategy to deal with the risk. Do not skimp on professional help, and seek assistance from a sex crime specialist at the earliest when you come across an allegation.
Sex crime allegations in clinical and institutional settings are common due to evident reasons. Doctors and healthcare providers have to be alone with the patients. Moreover, intimate examination and treatment are a part of their job. As a professional, you must know the risk and be ready to handle it. If you are true to your profession, such incidents should not keep you from being dedicated and giving your best.