Physicians experience sexual harassment from patients

By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

July 16, 2018 -- Physicians across a variety of specialties are sexually harassed by patients, although radiologists appear to experience it the least of any medical specialty, according to a report published by Medscape.

Almost a third of physicians have been subjected to sexual harassment by patients, including overtly sexual behavior, being asked out on a date, attempts at touching or groping, requests for a sexual encounter, or sexual emails, letters, or photos, Medscape found.

The online survey was conducted between March and April 2018 and included 6,235 respondents across more than 29 specialties. Respondents included physicians, residents, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

In the workplace, 7% of physicians are sexually harassed by other clinicians, medical personnel, or administrators, according to Medscape. But 27% of physicians across a variety of specialties are sexually harassed by patients. Of these encounters, the majority (17%) consisted of patients acting in an overtly sexual manner toward the doctor.

Female physicians encounter more harassment, with 19% experiencing patients acting in an overtly sexual manner toward them, compared with 17% of male physicians. By demographic, younger residents of both sexes encounter the most harassment, at 79%.

Rates of sexual harassment for selected medical specialties are shown in the table below, with radiologists last on the list. The full list of specialties is available in the report.

Sexual harassment rates for selected medical specialties
Medical specialty Harassment rate by patients
Dermatology 46%
Emergency medicine 43%
Plastic surgery/aesthetic medicine 41%
Oncology 35%
Physical medicine and rehabilitation 35%
Psychiatry 35%
Anesthesiology 30%
Internal medicine 28%
Neurology 28%
Urology 26%
General surgery 25%
Orthopedic surgery 22%
Cardiology 20%
Ob/gyn and women's heath 12%
Pathology 11%
Radiology 10%

"More than a quarter of physicians have experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment from patients within the past three years ... [with the] most common [being] obvious sexual overtures," the report concluded.


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