A plastic surgeon called me recently. He routinely examines his female patients with a female chaperone in the room. This is a good idea. Make that – a great idea. While it’s not common to be accused of inappropriate sexual contact, the accusation does occasionally happen. Then, it’s he said, she said. Write a big check.
This patient said she did NOT want any such chaperone in the room as it would create “negative female energy.” Huh?
The doctor explained the rationale for the chaperone. Still she refused.
To accommodate this patient, the doctor still saw the patient. He left the door cracked; and the female chaperone was in the next room.
After a one hour discussion and examination, the doctor said he had other patients waiting and he had to leave.
Patient said, ”So, you’re kicking me out?”
“No, I’ve given you an hour of my time. We’ve discussed your substantive issues. I have other patients who are waiting.”
“Well, I’m not finished.”
OK. It’s clear this was not going to be a long-lasting doctor-patient relationship. And, it’s good the doctor did not operate on the patient, where the stakes would have been raised significantly.
The first red flag was the patient’s demand to break a standard protocol. While THIS patient may have had honest intentions, there’s a chance this was a setup. If so, the patient would claim the doctor fondled her, and there’d be no witness. Sure, the doctor could pull out the medical record stating the patient explicitly refused to have a female chaperone present. Her retort would be that’s a little too convenient. Nothing of the sort happened. And the doctor “doctored’ the medical record to suit his perversion.
The next red flag, which was picked up correctly, was the patient’s belligerence at the end of the consultation. The doctor terminated the relationship. If the patient had become excessively belligerent and created an office ruckus, there might have been reason to call security or police. In this case, that would have been overkill. But, in other cases, making sure other patients in the office as well as staff are protected from harm must be among the highest priorities.
In sum, many protocol are in place and practiced day after day for good reason. If the protocols are broken, they must be for compelling reasons. Requests to break protocol for anything less should be treated as a red flag until proven otherwise. What do YOU think? Let us know.