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March 29, 2021

State Medical Board Recommendations for Stronger Approaches to Sexual Misconduct by Physicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, Burlington
  • 2Federation of State Medical Boards, Euless, Texas
JAMA. 2021;325(16):1609-1610. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.25775

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) recently engaged with its member boards and investigators, trauma experts, physicians, resident physicians, medical students, survivors of physician abuse, and the public to critically review practices related to the handling of reports of sexual misconduct (including harassment and abuse) toward patients by physicians. The review was undertaken as part of a core responsibility of boards to protect the public and motivated by concerning reports of unacceptable behavior by physicians. Specific recommendations from the review were adopted by the FSMB’s House of Delegates on May 2, 2020, and are highlighted in this Viewpoint.1

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    2 Comments for this article
    Sexual boundaries
    Lance Talmage, MD | Retired -Former FSMB Board Chair
    In an era where public figures are increasingly accused of sexual misbehavior the medical profession must be scrupulous in principal and action. The FSMB is and has been a leader is establishing a high standard. Keep up the good work.
    Issues to address with misconduct
    Roderick Walker, MD |
    This article is one of consequences of physician misconduct. We as a profession are charged with addressing disease prevention. Addressing misconduct begins with vetting at the time of medical school and residency admissions to help prevent misconduct.

    Physicians are required to be board certified as confirmation of their medical competency and it is therefore assumed that they are morally competent.

    There is an environment in society as well as in the medical society that devalues women and children. Some type of sexual harassment is perpetuated by staff and accepted as a unfortunate part of medical
    and residency training. It has been assumed by society and the medical society that everyone in medicine has a moral compass.

    If not addressed at every level of medical education, misconduct will continue.

    Similar to the unaccepted problem we as a society have with law enforcement.