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Public Defender Establishes Sexual Harassment by Doctor

On April 13, 2020, the Public Defender of Georgia established sexual harassment by a gastroenterologist and addressed the doctor and LEPL Medical and Pharmaceutical Regulation Agency with a recommendation.

The recommendation was based on the patient's application referring to alleged sexual harassment during a medical examination in a medical facility. It should be noted that in the course of the examination of the case, the Public Defender was contacted by two other alleged victims as well – another patient of the respondent and a student, who also referred to alleged sexual harassment by the doctor.

In particular, both patients noted that during their visits relating to stomach problems, the doctor examined their mammary glands as well, while according to the student, the respondent asked her to stay after the lecture for examination, during which, he did the same without warning her of breast examination or asking permission. The student also noted that the doctor did not use the usual technique of breast examination.

In a conversation with the Public Defender's Office, the doctor explained that refering a patient to a mammologist delays the treatment process, so he himself checks whether patients have breast problems to prescribe the kind of medication that would not cause health problems. He explained that he taught his patients how to examine their breasts, because he believed that women should do it before going to bed in order to detect hardening/mastopathy in time.

As a result of questioning the respondent, personally talking to other doctors, receiving information from the Medical and Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency and assessing the order on determination of professional competencies of medical specialties, the Public Defender established sexual harassment during delivery of medical services.

In her recommendation, the Public Defender highlighted the context of sexual harassment during provision of medical services, noting that patients do not have accurate information about the competencies of doctors. In addition, the relationship between a doctor and a patient is based on trust. The Public Defender explained that the patient’s consent had been obtained by abusing her trust. The respondent took advantage of his professional position and misled the patient, which was quite simple considering that the applicant had no medical education.

In view of the above, the Public Defender recommended the doctor not to engage in sexual harassment in the future. She also called on the Medical and Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency to take measures against the doctor within law.

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