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By Kevin Pezzi, MD


What should a male doctor do when he is groped by a female patient?

Q: I have a doctor/sex related question. If a female patient grabs a male physician's groin, should he report it? I am just curious. What are the consequences for that female patient?

A female pre-med student

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the model pictured above is NOT
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Answer by , MD: One of my female ER patients once fondled me (here's the story), but the thought of reporting her to the police never crossed my mind. In that case, the patient was legally intoxicated (although not drunk, probably because frequent drinking can increase resistance to the acute CNS effects of alcohol). However, having booze on board does not absolve anyone of culpability for any crime, ranging from murder to rape to inappropriate, unwanted touching. Therefore, I could have reported the case to the police, but it is doubtful whether the prosecutor would have chosen to prosecute her. Although this isn't codified anywhere, there is a tacit relaxation of the legal standards of propriety by patients and their families in emergency departments (see True Emergency Room Stories and Love & Lust in the ER [both free] for numerous examples of this). In other words, sans really heinous conduct, they are given a free pass to get away with behavior that would otherwise get them in hot water. I think there is also a double standard of morality when it comes to sexual crimes, with males being held to a higher standard of conduct, and females being able to get away with a lot more.

The patient who groped my genitalia was beautiful, with a big smile and even larger breasts. Frankly, for most men it would probably be a dream come true to have such a woman touching them "down there." It wasn't for me, at least not when she and I were in the ER, and she was the patient, and I was the doctor. Incidentally, she was the daughter of a doctor I knew, and it stunned me that she was so, um, friendly.

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