Doctors who sexually abuse patients go to therapy and then return to practice
No protection, no oversight, no accountability. Ariel Hart reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
After medical regulators said he fondled patients, exposed himself and traded drugs for sex, Dr. David Pavlakovic easily could have lost his license. Law enforcement thought his acts were criminal.
Instead of losing his job, Pavlakovic was placed in therapy. He was allowed to return to practice. And he didn’t even have to tell his patients.
The way Alabama handled Pavlakovic’s case reflects a growing trend across the nation: Medical regulators are viewing sexual misconduct by doctors as the symptom of an impairment rather than cause for punishment. Doctors who abuse, regulators and therapists say, can be evaluated and managed — sometimes with as little as a three-day course on appropriate doctor-patient “boundaries,” other times with inpatient mental health treatment that may include yoga and massage.
Society has become intolerant of most sex offenders, placing some on lifelong public registries and banishing others from their professions or volunteer activities. But medical regulators have embraced the idea of rehabilitation for physicians accused of sexual misconduct, a national investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.
Increasingly, it is left to private therapists, rather than police investigators, to unearth the extent of a doctor’s transgressions. There is little pretense of the check and balance of public scrutiny. Instead, some in the medical profession have discouraged public input, concerned it could trigger outrage that disrupts important work.
Even doctors with egregious violations are allowed to redeem themselves through education and treatment centers, which have quietly proliferated over the past two decades.
After boundary training and treatment, California reinstated a doctor who’d had a string of young women take off their underwear as he watched and then had them move their legs or butt cheeks so he could see or touch their anus and genitals. His victims included a high-school-aged girl in for a head cold.
Montana restored the license of a physician who served time in federal prison on a child pornography charge. The doctor exemplified the transformation that can result from treatment, the president of Montana’s medical board said this spring at a convention of medical regulators in San Diego.
“This was a very negative thing for the public,” Nathan Thomas said, acknowledging public criticism of the board’s decision.
However, he said the board worked with a program that pushed for the doctor’s rehabilitation., “I feel that this is a great example of the advocacy of our program,” Thomas said. . .
Continue reading. And read the whole thing: it’s very troubling.