Second Chances For Docs Accused of Sex Abuse – Okay With You?

Amarillo, Texas doctor Jeffrey Donald Cone, Sr. was arrested and booked into the Potter County Detention Center for four counts of sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child, sexual contact on May 18, 2018. (Photo Courtesy: Potter County Sheriff’s Office)

Doctors accused of sex abuse often get a slap on the wrist

| Leader-Telegram – The doctor instructed his patient to stand in front of him.

He cupped her crotch and inserted his fingers into her vagina through her clothes, moving his hand repeatedly to her rectal area. Then he squeezed her breasts, according to a formal accusation filed by the Medical Board of California.

The patient, accompanied to the appointment by her 4-year-old granddaughter, asked why that was necessary to diagnose a urinary tract infection, according to the documents. He told her to let him do his job.

In three other cases, the board alleged that the family doctor, Ramon Fakhoury of California’s Inland Empire, touched patients’ genitals for no medical reason. In 2016, the board handed him 35 months of administrative probation, requiring him, among other things, to have a chaperone when treating females.

Fakhoury did not admit to the allegations, according to his attorney, and criminal charges against him were dropped. If he successfully completes probation next year, he’ll be able to practice without restriction.

With a mission of patient protection and doctor rehabilitation — not punishment — California’s medical board and those in other states make decisions under laws and norms that can seem discordant in the #MeToo era.

What’s your opinion – should doctors who commit sex abuse get second chances? 

  • YES, everyone deserves a second chance.
  • NO, sex abuse is a crime; patients deserve to be treated by people who are not criminals 

Post your opinion in the comments area below

California is often cited as one of the more rigorous states in overseeing doctors. But, according to the medical board, very few sexual misconduct complaints are reported to the board in the first place, historically fewer than 200 a year.

Even fewer result in a formal accusation against a doctor. And when discipline is found to be warranted — typically in fewer than 20 cases a year — the board tends toward leniency, sometimes granting a few years of probation even in instances of severe misconduct, according to a KHN analysis of medical board records.

More than a third of doctors sanctioned by California’s board in cases that alleged sexual misconduct received probation in the past 10 years — some more than once.

The terms of probation — which is not a criminal court action but places conditions on a physician’s license — often required temporary chaperones, as well as psychotherapy and courses in “professional boundaries” and ethics. (Through probation, the medical board can only place conditions or restrictions on a doctor’s license in civil proceedings; it does not take criminal court actions.)

“They love giving second chances” to physicians, said Marian Hollingsworth of San Diego, a frequent critic of the California medical board. “It makes you wonder where their priorities are. … Their first loyalty is supposed to be patient safety and that doesn’t always happen.”

The recent, shocking reports about years of abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and University of Southern California gynecologist George Tyndall — as well as national exposés about physician misconduct by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press — have only intensified concerns about whether sexual abuse is taken seriously enough in medicine. Read more. 

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(Photo Courtesy: Potter County Sheriff’s Office)