Sexual Misconduct by Psychiatrists

The Ethical and Clinical Dilemma of Confidentiality
  • Alan A. Stone


During the past decade there has been an increase in malpractice suits, ethical complaints, and even criminal charges against psychiatrists for sexual abuse of patients.1 When a psychiatrist is publicly exposed because of such abusive conduct, it often turns out that a substantial number of his or her colleagues acknowledge (usually in confidence) that they had long known of this unethical conduct. Rarely do these colleagues recognize that they may have failed in their own ethical responsibilities. Section 2 of APA’s annotated Principles of Medical Ethics 2 directs us to “strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence.” The sexual abuse of patients is an egregious manifestation of deficiencies in character and competence2 Yet standing in the way of this affirmative ethical duty to expose such physicians is the equally important obligation to protect the confidentiality of patients.


Sexual Abuse Unethical Conduct Ethical Dilemma Ethical Responsibility Therapeutic Alliance 
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Copyright information

© American Psychiatric Association 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan A. Stone

There are no affiliations available

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