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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the wake of news reports revealing that Congressman Scott DesJarlais, a Republican doctor, carried on multiple sexual affairs with his patients, members of Tennessee’s medical community are speaking out.
They say the issue of doctors having sex with their patients is black and white — it’s wrong always.
“This is not a debatable question. It’s been clear for a very long time,” said Larry Churchill, the Ann Geddes Stahlman Professor of Medical Ethics at Vanderbilt. “It’s a breach of trust between the physician and the patient, and it’s been a major tenant in every medical code of ethics devised since the time of Hippocrates.”
Churchill, who has taught medical ethics for 38 years, says this boundary is clearly defined and recognized by the American Medical Association and all professional doctor’s organizations.
“Every doctor knows the rules and every patient should able to expect their physician won’t abuse that trust,” Churchill said. “Anyone who thinks that character counts should be particularly concerned about a doctor who would carry on a sexual relationship with a patient.”
Dr. Judson Rogers, a physician who practices internal medicine in Nashville, said seeking out a sexual relationship with a patient is an inexcusable error in judgement that would make a doctor unsuitable for public office.
“It is difficult to see how a doctor who has admitted to having sex with his patients and writing prescriptions on dates could even stay in the race for Congress,” Rogers said. “Dr. DesJarlais’ concern for ethics and moral behavior seems to fall short of personal responsibility. As a politician and doctor, Rep. Desjarlais has shamed our state and harmed our citizens. Thoughtful voters would do right to revoke his license to practice on on any political body.”
Rep. Scott DesJarlais Slapped with Medical Ethics Investigation for Having Sex with Patients. “The Tennessee Department of Health has been asked to investigate evidence that U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais had a sexual relationship with a patient, an allegation that could open the congressman to disciplinary action for violating medical ethics.” [Tennessean, 10/16/2012]
CREW Pushes for Action on DesJarlais After Second Patient Mistress Comes Forward. “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington responded Wednesday to new allegations against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, again asking state medical authorities to investigate its ethics complaint against the physician-turned-congressman.” [Times Free Press, 11/01/12]
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