We have gone from a lecture based format to a team learning format in our medical school. In the previous format, I was assigned the “Don’t be a bad doctor” talk to give to the students. I would point out that of the doctors who lose their license, very few lose it for delivering bad care. More commonly, the physician lose their license as a consequence of illicit drug use, writing prescriptions of controlled substances for folks not their patients, having sexual relations with their patients, or a combination of the above. The students were informed that 3% to 10% of physicians reported having had a sexual relationship with their patient. The students, most of whom are young enough to be my children, could not see themselves in a compromising situation such as this so I was seen (or so it seemed to me) as a prudish nag. OK, maybe not but I was introduced to the parents as “The professor who told us not to have sex with our patients.”
This brings us to another one of our physician congressmen, Dr Scott DesJarlais (R-Tennessee).
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a physician who opposes abortion rights, said in a letter that he was “deeply sorry” that supporters had to find out about the relationship with a patient that occurred while DesJarlais was separated from his first wife. But he said he used stark language about traveling to Atlanta to get an abortion try to get the woman to acknowledge that she wasn’t pregnant.
A group of Tennesseans are trying to hold him accountable. In their words:
“Tennessee law is crystal clear: Doctors are prohibited from engaging in sexual relationships with patients,” Melanie Sloan, the group’s executive director, said in a release. “The only question remaining is, now that Tennessee authorities are aware of Rep. DesJarlais’ blatantly unethical and scurrilous conduct, what are they going to do about it?”
If only he had taken my class. Or read the words of the Hippocratic Oath he recited:
Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.