Sexual exploitation of patients

Podiatrist Patient Relations

Adopted: Thu, 2010-01-14

Back to Position Statements

Reviewed 2014-11-13 - no changes

It is the position of the North Carolina Board of Podiatry Examiners that sexual exploitation of a patient is unprofessional conduct and undermines the public trust in the podiatric profession. Sexual exploitation encompasses a wide range of behaviors which have in common the intended sexual gratification of the podiatrist. These behaviors include sexual intercourse with a patient (consensual or non-consensual), touching genitalia, sexually suggestive comments, asking patients for a date, inappropriate exploration of the patients or podiatrist's sexual fantasies, touching or exposing genitalia, breast, or other parts of the body in ways not dictated by an appropriate and indicated physical examination, exchanging sexual favors for services. Sexual exploitation is grounds for the suspension, revocation, or other action against a podiatrist's license.

Sexual misconduct by podiatrists and other health care practitioners is a form of behavior that adversely affects the public welfare and harms patients individually and collectively. Podiatrist sexual misconduct exploits the podiatrist-patient relationship, is a violation of the public trust, and is often known to cause harm, both mentally and physically, to the patient.

Regardless of whether sexual misconduct is viewed as emanating from an underlying form of impairment, it is unarguably a violation of the public's trust.

As with other disciplinary actions taken by the Board, Board action against a podiatrist's licensee for sexual exploitation of a patient is published by the Board, the nature of the offense being clearly specified. It is also released to the news media, to state and federal government, and to medical and professional organizations.