There is really very little that bears saying in the appalling case of Dr. Earl Bradley, a Delaware pediatrician who stands accused of molesting over 100 of his patients. I like to think that I have a facility for words, but I cannot find the right words to describe how I, as a pediatrician, feel about what this man has done with the trust given to him as a member of our shared profession. I am disgusted and horrified and infuriated in a manner unlike most of my more commonly-expressed ire. (While the obvious caveat about being innocent until proven guilty obviously applies, the existence of video evidence for many of these crimes makes that chance seem fleetingly small.)
Over at Not A Potted Plant (a blog I happened upon a little bit ago when it and our wee humble blog were both given simultaneous shout-outs at Ordinary Gents, and which I recommend heartily [except to the religious and easily offended]), Burt Likko (not his real name) offered some humorously-phrased but genuinely helpful legal advice. (In short, never ever talk to police without legal advice.) It's probably the kind of advice that, to him, seems like such common sense that it doesn't need to be said. In that vein, I offer some (more earnestly-phrased) medical advice, which seems obvious to me but clearly was not to the parents of over 100 children in Delaware.
The number of times I have examined non-adolescent patients without a parent present is zero. It is something I never do. A reputable pediatrician is highly unlikely to examine your child without you there. We want you there for your child's comfort and security, we want you there if we need help holding or calming your child to get the exam done, and we want you there for our own protection so everything we do is known to you. For adolescent patients, I defer to the preference of the patient, and generally ask if they want their parent present while the parent is still in the room. And I never, ever, ever perform any kind of gynecological exam without explaining why I'm doing it and without either a parent or other female chaperone in the room.
Any request to examine a child in the absence of a parent should be met with deep suspicion. (An exception worth noting is in cases of suspected child abuse, in which case another chaperone is typically present.) Parents who trusted Dr. Bradley to care for their children are absolutely not at fault, though I cannot imagine the guilt they must feel. But no doctor deserves to be left alone with your small child unless measures to ensure his or her safety have been made plain to you. Good ones would never ask in the first place.
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