• Sexual Assault and Misconduct
  • Report
  • Higher Ed

Guide to Prevent Sexual Misconduct by Campus Health Care Providers

Christine McHugh, Esq.
March 2021

Why Read This

Health care interactions at student health clinics, sports medicine facilities, and athletic training locations must not be overlooked in sexual assault prevention efforts.

Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and other health care providers garner significant respect, deference, and authority due to their professions, and as a result they’re often allowed to practice with minimal oversight and sometimes aren’t subject to institutions’ risk management protocols. Additionally, patients treated by these providers are in an inherently vulnerable position due to the power differential in the provider-patient relationship and that differential is exacerbated during intimate health care interactions.

Treatment by health care providers on campus, whether in an athletic capacity or through the campus health clinic, is also unique – due to the limited availability of health care professionals who staff these clinics and often work on an on-call basis, patients have little or no input into which providers they see.

In this report, learn how your institution can protect students and other patients by establishing and maintaining boundaries of appropriate behavior and implementing safeguards.

Key Takeaways

  • Well-trained chaperones who are present during sensitive examinations or procedures can protect health care professionals and patients, and they also can give patients emotional comfort and reassurance.
  • Due to power differentials involving health care providers treating student-athletes, some institutions have separate chaperone policies that require a chaperone for all sensitive examinations and expressly state that student-athletes have the right to ask that a chaperone be present for health care encounters.
  • It’s important to post patient rights and responsibilities guidelines in all areas where health care services are provided within your institution; having patient rights outlined educates and empowers patients.

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