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New rules would strengthen protections against sexual misconduct by doctors. Here's how

By Scott Fallon - North Jersey News - 16/04/2024 - [USA] - [Prevention] Routine physician examinations in New Jersey may change under new rules proposed Monday by state authorities to combat sexual misconduct.

The new rules by the State Board of Medical Examiners would require a physician to confirm that patients have read and understood that they have a right to a medical observer/chaperone present when they are examined. It also requires observers to be licensed medical professionals, such as another doctor, a nurse or a medical assistant.

Doctors will also have to take two continuing medical education credit hours on "sexual misconduct prevention."

New Jersey patients have had a right to have a chaperone or observer in an exam room with them since rules were adopted 20 years ago. But many don't know they have that right, even though some medical offices post signs in their waiting rooms and elsewhere.

The changes are especially designed as an "effective check on physicians who perform sensitive examinations," the rules document states. How many sexual misconduct cases are dealt with by the board each year was not clear on Monday. But a review of news articles shows that some New Jersey doctors have allegedly been engaged in a pattern of abuse for years.

"We are taking steps to protect patients when they are at their most vulnerable and to educate physicians on best practices during sensitive exams,” said Cari Fais, acting director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the board.

Josh Bengal, a lawyer and lobbyist for the Medical Society of New Jersey, said the group was still reviewing the rules but in general favours having an observer.

"All of those physicians who are practicing as they should be to a proper standard of care, they appreciate the value of having an observer in the room with them," said Bengal, whose group represents 9,000 doctors.

New Jersey was ranked 16th among states for protecting patients against sexual assault by doctors in a 2017 analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Dignity4Patients Commentary:- It's encouraging to see state authorities finally taking action to address #SexualMisconduct in healthcare. Requiring training on "preventing sexual misconduct" and mandating the presence of a medical observer or #chaperone for intimate examinations is a good starting point.


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