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Sexual harassment by patients forces doctors to alter their practice

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 15 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g118
  1. Lorraine Baker, general practitioner, Melbourne, Australia
  1. lorretb56{at}

Practices should make sure general practitioners do not have to worry about patients behaving inappropriately, says Lorraine Baker

A representative survey of 600 female Australian general practitioners (GPs) published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2010 found that more than half (54.5%; 97) of the 180 who responded had experienced sexual harassment during their careers. Of those 97 respondents, nine had experienced harassment more than eight times.1 Behaviours reported ranged from inappropriate gifts or sexual remarks to requests for inappropriate examination or inappropriate exposure of body parts to touching or grabbing.

The report attracted the attention of a journalist who contacted me through the Australian Medical Association Victoria, of which I am board member. We were both surprised when the next morning his article was featured on page 2 of both The Age (Melbourne) and the Sydney Morning Herald, reaching a wide audience …

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