Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Law and the Biosciences

Publication Date




Page Number


sexual misconduct, physician-patient relationship


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Health Law and Policy | Law


The Federation of State Medical Boards defines physician sexual misconduct as any "behavior that exploits the physician-patient relationship in a sexual way." Although several attempts have been made in recent years to clarify its incidence in the United States, physician sexual misconduct is almost certainly underreported. Physician sexual misconduct represents a severe and irreversible violation of the compact underlying the patient–physician relationship and can have far-reaching consequences on the lives of patients and their families. In addition, the credibility of and trust in physicians, both essential to the provision of medical care, could well erode in the eyes of the public at large if egregious cases of physician sexual misconduct are perceived as having gone unpunished. Although all physician licensees accused of sexual misconduct are entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process, complaints made by patients must be taken seriously and vigorously pursued. In this article, we discuss the ongoing challenge of physician sexual misconduct and provide recommendations to improve its reporting and curb its incidence.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.