Volume 45, Issue 6 (November 2000)
Assessing the Risk of Recidivism in Physicians with Histories of Sexual Misconduct
Physicians who engage in sexual conduct with patients usually cause serious harm and have a high rate of recidivism. Although offending physicians may lose their privilege to practice, they have the right to appeal for restoration of the license. Yet medical licensing board members do not currently have any clear standards by which to predict whether a given physician is likely to abuse again. Using New York as a paradigm, this paper offers practical, clinically based guidelines for assessing the risk of restoring an offending physician's license. These guidelines are derived from psychoanalytic theories of character, the insights of therapists who have worked with abusive physicians, and the psychiatric model of assessing dangerousness. Recognizing character patterns and psychological vulnerabilities of physicians with histories of sexual misconduct will help board members identify those who are at high risk of abusing again if their licenses are restored.