The $190 million settlement between more than 8,000 female patients and Johns Hopkins Hospital was finalized Sept. 19th, but the cash settlement will do nothing to restore the loss of trust experienced by some women.
The Levy Case
Dr. Nikita Levy, a Johns Hopkin’s gynecologist, was investigated after a co-worker alerted authorities about a pen-like camera Levy carried while examining women and girls. Investigators searched Levy’s home and found 1,200 videos and 140 images of female patients’ genitals. It was discovered that Levy had been illicitly filming and photographing his patients with a miniature camera when they were undergoing gynecological exams. 62 of the females photographed were children.
Lead attorney Jonathan Schochor, in an interview, stated the settlement is likely the largest single-perpetrator sexual abuse case in history.
From the article: “This result is truly historic, groundbreaking, unprecedented and extraordinary,” Schochor said. “These women didn’t run. They were brave. And now they’re recognized as a very, very serious force in this city and all cities across the United States.
“We proved that this conduct will not be tolerated,” Schochor said, “and that their damages will not be trivialized.” http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/09/19/6132782/judge-to-hear-objections-to-hopkins.html?rh=1
Some Positive Steps Were Taken but Distrust Remains
Some positive steps were taken in the presentation of the Levy case. The perpetrator was caught, the victims were awarded a large sum of money, their suffering was acknowledged, they were referred to as being “brave”, and it was ‘proven’ that the doctor’s conduct would “not be tolerated”.
Some of the victims were even given an opportunity to have their voices heard. Maria Lennon stated that although she felt vindicated, her nightmares weren’t “going to go away”. Lennon asked “Do I need to take a security guard to the gynecologist? Maybe I do.”
Some women revealed that Levy had asked them to strip naked on the examination table and would conduct pelvic exams without gloves. He would ask assistants to leave the room, and would schedule unnecessary examinations.
Everlena Gaylord, 48, and her three daughters were patients of Levy’s for years. Gaylord said that although she is happy about the settlement, she is still in the healing process and stated her “trust is completely broken with doctors, male and female. I just have to take it one day at a time.” http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/east/2014/09/22/255062.htm
Even though the case seems straightforward in some ways, there are unanswered questions that the details of this case present. For instance: What is being done to prevent this from happening to other women in the future? How are women to know if they have been filmed by their doctor in the past? What assurances do women have that their doctor is not filming them when they are exposed and vulnerable? As Lennon asked, do women need to bring a security guard along for pelvic exams?
The Levy case stands out because of the sheer volume of women abused, but it is one among many disturbing medical sexual misconduct cases that have hit mainstream media. However, mainstream media is limited in its ability to alert women as many cases of sexual abuse may go unreported and undetected.
Sanda Rogers, University of Ontario law faculty, in her discussion of failed promise of reform regarding sexual abuse by health care professionals, states: “Patients report abuse. The evidence is there, as is the evidence that abuse is seriously under reported. The legislation provides the health disciplines with the tools necessary to respond to the abuse perpetrated by some members. Instead, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and other Colleges, have failed to ensure that complainants are provided with the support necessary to assist them to survive the process of complaint, investigation and hearing. The drop off rate on complaints by the CPSO, and by other Colleges, is such that almost no complaints and few complaints of sexual misconduct and abuse proceed to a full hearing. Each stage of the process favors the professional and undermines the complainant.” https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2013/04/19/sexual-abuse-under-guise-of-health-care-presents-barriers/
Make Women Less Vulnerable in Medical Settings
The current situation in women’s health care leaves some women vulnerable to abuse at the hands of medical providers. Some women may depend on health care providers for a variety of health related needs, and this may increase women’s vulnerability in health care settings. For instance, some health care providers may be coercive and withhold health care and medications when women refuse intimate exams and screening tests. Some solutions that might help to make women less vulnerable include:
- Educating women about their right to informed consent for intimate exams. Many women remain unaware of the fact they have a right to informed consent for pelvic exams and/or pap tests.
- Educating doctors about the need for transparency. Some doctors fail to offer women information about the potential harms and benefits involved in screening and examinations.
- Put protocols in place to help doctors ensure their patients are aware they have a choice in regards to examinations and screening.
- Ensure women always have a choice in deciding who may, or who may not, have access to their bodies.
A male doctor’s honest point of view: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2012/09/09/the-other-side-of-the-speculum-a-male-doctors-point-of-view/
Tips on preventing sexual misconduct by doctors: http://sexualmisconductbydoctors.com/importanttips.aspx
What can happen when women say “no” to male doctors: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2012/10/17/what-some-male-doctors-do-when-women-say-no/
Sexual abuse in women’s health care: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2013/04/19/sexual-abuse-under-guise-of-health-care-presents-barriers/
Pap test coercion: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2014/01/09/pap-test-coercion-getting-more-attention/
Informed consent missing: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2009/11/informed-consent-missing-pap-smears-cervical-cancer-screening.html
Here’s ye royal breakdown. If the attorney got 35%, that would be $66,500,000 of the $190,000,000, leaving 123,500,000 for 8,000 victims, or $15,437.50. You think t would have been more per victim. Don’t let the numbers fool you. Does 15K and change really provide justice for rape under color of authority? Not to me. Better than nothing.
As for the big-mouthed policies and changes? How many of these will be put into pen and paper practice? All of these will be done at discretion of the doctor, and how said doctor chooses to word or not to word these protections. There will be a few months of cautionary careful maneuvering in clinics. Then slowly it will be watered down, as doctors will say the woman chose to go to the clinic, is asking for help, and this is what is recommended. Back to the old “shared decision making scheme.”
What’s missing is the glaring “women have a choice and a say in who they want in the room as their chaperone.” And, that chaperone will be where the woman decides, so long as not to interfere with the sterility of the exam. That’s right doctors, no more hiding under that frigging tent leaving us to guess if you’re gloved or not, and wondering if the extra time taken is for an exam and not for your personal video & picture collection.
Twice I’ve had my husband down at the business end. He has looked at my cervix. He has watched the exam from two feet away, and asked questions. The doctor treated him as if it was perfectly normal. And since it didn’t bother me, and the doctor was working for me, and I decide what ‘s done and how to my body, it was perfectly normal. Nobody should care. So long as you feel safe.
The only problem I’ve had is female techs who think they are the nazi vagina police and are protecting me from my privacy being violated or I don’t know what. If I’m there, naked, my privacy has since been violated. My husband is to ensure nothing else is violated. I do the same for him.
No amount of money will help the patients who were abused. Even if every patient got $1 Million, it still would not take back what Dr. Levy did to them.
Everlena Gaylord who is 48 years old went to Dr. Levy for 24 years. Many women falsely assume that because they have gone to their male gynecologist for many years that he can be trusted. The truth is many male gynecologists may not really abuse female patients until years later. It is so sad that this woman took her 3 daughters to Dr. Levy. I would assume they are in their 20s or teens which is very disturbing. We all know many young women and teenage girls do not really need to see a gynecologist anyway.
As many of you probably know, I have an article about how mothers can prevent their daughters from being sexually abused at http://sexualmisconductbydoctors.com/teenagefemaletips.aspx.
I encourage you all to read this article: http://www.wbaltv.com/news/documents-reveal-who-first-discovered-dr-nikita-levys-actions/27810370#ixzz3Cxe8aQVu about how a female technician discovered what Dr. Levy was doing. If it was not for her, he might have continued his actions.
Thank you for the links Misty. I had forgotten to add your site but I’ve updated the “more on this topic” section of the post above to include your excellent tips on prevention of sexual misconduct by doctors. I was taken aback when I read about the children involved in the case.
I agree that no amount of money can undo the harm that was done.
Hi Misty. I like the tips you have provided for teenagers to help them avoid sexual abuse by doctors. I had not realized you believed that pap smears are a good idea for teens who have been raped or are sexually active. In the article you state “If you have been sexually active or were raped, it is probably a good idea to have a pap smear when you are a teenager.” Are you aware of the new guidelines Misty? Even in the U.S., where excess screening of young women is causing a great deal of unnecessary harm, the guidelines clearly specify that pap tests should not be done until a woman turns 21: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/new-screening-guidelines-for-cervical-cancer It makes no difference if a teen is sexually active or not – she should not have a pap test if she is a teen.
Sadly mothers are being told not taking there daughters is irresponsible. the obgyn comunity is pushing for young healthy girls to go for exams to get used to it. its so sad so many mothers trust and belive this.
Misty, I hope Elizabeth (Aus) and others thoroughly review your sites before recommending it be used as reference guides for those “virgin” to pelvic-err-I mean vaginal exams. These guides are contrary to common sense, irrelevant, out of date, and outside reality. Another rehashing the old line and paranoia surrounding male gynecologists. No credence is given that women abuse women, and lesbians can abuse this power position worse than men. Exactly why do we need to provide a “baseline” pelvic exam sampling at age 21 to try and establish trust with the doctor? What are we paying for? Mommy and daddy extensions?
A female predator can pull off molest easiest while posing as wolf in sheep’s clothing. Who could cause a virgin to orgasm then blame the whole thing on her–using her lack of sexuality as proof? Her word vs doctor. Wonder who prevails. I can imagine the excuse…why would a lesbian professional concerned about women molest another woman? A male could never get away with that. I have read other posts elsewhere where women describe exactly this, and then being stalked afterward. One of those women posted on these forums.
Your guides mandate seeking out a female for everything, every procedure, driving long distances if necessary. Overkill? It’s the female techs I brand as femanazis who’ve been extremely unprofessional, treating me worst during vaginal ultrasounds. Trust the doctor; or here the Mayo clinic. Have the exam. You never know how you could be exposed to cc. Better safe than sorry, save your life today. NO mention at all that paps are totally unnecessary and all HPV testing can be done outside the stirrups. We are not trying to go back into the future. Not here.
These long list of guidelines and questions to ask, while helpful, make a person appear paranoid. Again, refer to others’ experiences. You can request an all-female team, but medical personnel are self-regarded as “professionals” and it’s discriminatory and unreasonable to expect them to abide given the financial hardship to schedule an all-female team just for you. Your advocate will be shuttled off and away. Is it ok that the advocate be a “man”?! What about father instead of mother? Trying so hard to steer into a female provider’s hands also put the patient at the disadvantage of being totally influenced into the exams we’re seeking to eliminate. Woman or man, pauper or king, power corrupts, and total power corrupts totally. Trust, but first verify. Thinking every man is a pervert only marginalizes you to being absurd. The gravitation towards women also may give the undesired signal the patient is lesbian or was molested. Medical personnel are prone to giving labels, and with computers these will stick for life.
Worst yet, this assumes men are incapable of providing good medical care. In the haste of finding a woman, one may miss out on the best treatment just because the best doctor available has a penis instead of a vagina. Much of this can be summed up in two words: Common Sense. This is what a person really needs, and a healthy suspicion of anything requested that includes removing clothing. Example, the material says to never remove a blouse so one’s heart can be listened to. How about removing the blouse but keeping the bra on? That fabric may prevent a slight defect from being heard. And, have your advocate beside you, asking questions.
Take it from me. You first must tell the doctor this person is allowed to chip in. In hospital, having an advocate there may save your life. But there’s a fine line between advocacy, paranoia, and pissing off staff. These recommendations do far more harm than good. I’ve had both male and female doctors, gay and straight. I’ve seen the best & worst in both.
There are parts of these recommendations that are good. Other parts do not exist. Example, the page linking to ACOG does not exist.
Also, #9 says to have somebody present when you are given anesthesia. This is impossible. General anesthesia is given in a sterile area, and family members/advocates are not allowed. Period, any hospital, anywhere.
This in whole needs filtering.
I agree with Sue.
The evidence does not support pap testing teenagers or women under 25, (I’d say 30) this has been clear for a long time now, it’s of no benefit, but exposes women to high risk from false positives, excess biopsies and over-treatment.
Some women (including young women) may want to test for STIs, this testing should be made as accessible as possible, there is no need for invasive exams, just blood and urine testing and a vaginal self-swab. I also, saw the other day that some countries now offer anonymous STI self-testing. When I say STIs, I’d omit HPV testing, that can be considered when women turn 30, not before.
So there is an easy way for teenagers and older women to avoid medical abuse, understand what is being offered/ordered and make informed decisions.
Routine exams are mostly unnecessary and simply expose you to risk, that includes annual wellness exams, routine breast, pelvic, rectal, recto-vaginal and TVU.
The American examine-everything annual exam is not evidence based and exposes you to risk, even unnecessary surgery.
Of course, some “well” people choose to see a doctor every year or so (especially from mid-life) to have their blood pressure checked, some also, have cholesterol and other levels checked, some need repeat scripts for various things. (the Pill should IMO, be taken off script)
The only women who can benefit from pap testing are the roughly 5% who are HPV+ and aged 30 to 60. Breast screening – only for those who understand the evidence and provide informed consent, not before age 50 and then only 2 or 3 yearly to age 65 or 70. At this point though, I wonder about the ethics and legality of offering/recommending something that is clearly harming a lot of women. The evidence mounts ever higher that the risks of breast screening exceeds any benefit, surely at some point we’ll have to face vested interests, come clean with women, and stop screening. At the very least women must be fully informed before they submit to screening. (over-diagnosis, false positives, excess biopsies, over-treatment, breast compression and radiation) That means…forget targets, propaganda, unethical tactics, make full disclosure, and there should be no pressure to screen.
My philosophy is to see a doctor when you actually need to see a doctor, I don’t like poking around looking for problems…and any screening should be accepted with a full understanding of what it can and can’t achieve and where it can lead.
IMO, it’s not the case that more is better, the reverse is closer to the truth, less is best.
Cat & Mouse: I’ve been meaning to ask: Why do you get these tests? Given the stuff you know & the way you argue against it, I don’t get it (not that I feel like you owe me an explanation).
The “shared decision-making” is just a cutesy way of saying “them making their own decisions on probing someone.”
Alex, I’m glad to share. If I’m gonna talk, I’d better be reasonable and explain why. I agree about “shared decision making.” Their way of talking us into agreeing to what they want to do. A shadow in the carrot and stick approach.
I’ve been through the cc system. Paps, colpo, cryo. Rushed through. My experiences reflect what other women relate. I was brainwashed. Thank God for Elizabeth and others here who’ve provided change not only for me, but for our daughters too. Finally. Change is in the air.
Like others here, I didn’t receive informed consent nor pain management. Then later in life comes my uterine biopsy which brought extreme pain. Must rule out chance of endometrial cancer as one gets irregular periods before menopause. [ultrasound would have done same w/o pain] I’m disabled. In 25yrs I’ve seen over 50 doctors for my injuries plus routine things women go through. My husband is my advocate, educator, researcher, caregiver. His mom was an RN, and he grew up in a medical environment plus listening to all her friends talk about gyno problems, themselves, their daughters. He’s seen them cry over breast lumps. His mother could never discuss the gyno though.
He can talk to doctors in their language, understand my labs, MRI’s, and is 90% accurate in recognizing their behaviors. He becomes very concerned whenever anybody tries to isolate me w/o cause, outside an area where spouses/advocates are allowed. He’s correct, as that’s when I’ve been most at risk. He asks questions, and has taken abuse for sticking up for me more than once. He hates seeing me cry or suffer unnecessarily. He’s memorized copies of my medical records which at one time saved my life. He still lusts after me and at times I don’t know why. I am his only lover. We believe each other. He makes sure I get brand pain meds vs generic. Each year he helps my doctor’s staff do the prior authorizations.
God has always answered our prayers. And our psychologist has saved our marriage, helping us sort through so much rough terrain. We learned how to communicate.
We have seen the best and worst of doctors, nurses, and techs. A female Neuro ICU nurse who threatened me, while I was under a hypnotic post op, that she’d catheterize me if I didn’t urinate. We observed a female ob nurse tell prospective first time fathers they aren’t needed during an exam when they should be there. Or female techs being mean just because I want him present to hold my hand during a vaginal ultrasound (follow up to uterine biopsy). Or a gay male nurse who refused to interpret my crying post op that I was in pain–b/c I didn’t say I was in pain. Gay or straight, male or female, the best and worst. Then there’s nurses in a divorce who misuse a situation to vent on him.
I grew up in a bad house and am not great at always speaking up for myself to authority. He’s had his own injuries from childhood onward to adulthood, and his mother stupidly thought one had to be in control of one’s pain–as if a child can power his/her brain through a broken arm being set.
This site is the best. The exchange of ideas, medical information from experiences to recognized data, can’t be found anywhere else. The people know what is happening at the consumer level, it’s here that real change will begin. Like us, others will come here and realize their bad experiences aren’t unique, but something that politicians need to realize must be changed. Here exists information that educates everybody no matter their level of schooling. This site is liberating.
I’ve had female and male gynecologists, some good and some bad. Presently mine is male, and he was recommended as my female internist and other female doctors prefer him. So far, he’s been honest and good. And he admits the pap and bimanual is useless. That doesn’t mean he dropped it however. He promised an alternative to alternative to the pap due to me needing a total knee replacement. I suspect it will be the Delphi but not sure. Hope that explains my feelings.
Ever wonder why woman are told how vital these exams are for all healthy woman and girls? never made since to me I always new there were other alterior motives.
Reblogged this on Artes Mechanicae and commented:
The loss of trust continues…
Thank you for the reblog CelesteRegal. Also, thank you for the poem: Women Alone
The poem in its entirety is arresting, but the beauty and hope in these last lines stand out for me:
Identity does survive, though, amidst all the ruckus
Warmth endures unabated
In the trace of true kindness
Trickling determinedly long after sunset
Cantatas unheard but never unsung. http://myartesmechanicae.wordpress.com/category/violence-against-women/
Thanks Sue. I often forget about my blog when I get inside research and making. Women are producing much exciting work so I’ll have to hit the library for access & compose. Happy New Year/Ear/ Hear.
I recently read an article about a new app for doctors to share X-rays, CT scans and images of patients. This was for diagnosis and “crowd-sourcing”, doctors in ER sharing cellphone photos of injuries etc. we already know that colposcopies are videographer and “stored” for “references”. Before they had to make drawing and write only descriptions. The “professional” use of a patients images might be useful but once a consent to “sharing” is signed then how far does it go? What images could be taken just for sharing as entertainment and for personal use?
With this recent case of a doctor taking secret photos of staff and patients, I have to wonder if I signed a consent form that anything goes. I have no control over what images are taken and what is stored and distributed. Enough is enough.
Absolutely Moo, enough is enough. Doctors are more subjective, judgemental, and only nurses come close to how they gossip. They enjoy looking at us when we’re naked and unconscious during procedures, including nosing in during baby deliveries for no other reason than to gawk. This is a violation, endured daily by every patient. Nobody is there as our privacy advocates. Our loved ones, who would quickly challenge why it’s necessary for personnel to view or touch us are kept far away. I’ve heard relatives talking and reliving it. Doctors believe they are self-appointed to dictate how we should live, and whore themselves out as muscle for crooked insurance companies out to deny treatments while lining their own pockets.
Those pictures should be as difficult for doctors to share or view as it is for us to view our own MRI’s etc on provided discs. No permission, no code, no peek. Our bodies, our copyright. The other is portability. HIPAA laws are supposed to protect our privacy, requiring written permission for information transfer. However there is no “lock” of any kind in records rooms, and nobody dares question a doctor when he/she requests files or pictures. Indeed, Dr Levy is the rarity who got caught. While Dr Levy maintained his own library, any doctor with hospital privileges can access whatever records exist locally since no real transfer is involved-everything is in house. And no records are kept about who looks at what.
From today’s headlines … another shocking story, and another example of how language is used to protect the perpetrators.
First, the story headline, as presented in two articles. Here are the two headlines:
1. “Doctor charged with sexually assaulting 6 women from Yorkton ..”
2. “Man who worked as doctor in Yorkton facing sexual assault charges”
You can search using these terms and easily find these and other articles on this story, and, like the Levy case, the details are pretty disturbing. For me, some of the troubling details:
* The investigation of the gynecologist – finally charged on Feb. 2, 2016 – is reported as having been first launched in 2001.
* One of the many stories on this reported – “During a lengthy investigation 12 women came forward with allegations of sexual assault”.
* The “man who worked as a doctor” was sanctioned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan on similar charges in April of 2013.
15 years between the launch of the investigation and eventual charges?
12 years between the launch of the investigation and sanction by the College of Physicians and Surgeons?
12 women had to come forward before charges were finally laid?
None of the articles I saw commented on the incredible delay in stopping the assaults – I guess a doctor is given much more than the benefit of a doubt when a woman calls the police. I wonder how long it would take if a single male patient reported being raped?
And back to the article – and the use of language to protect those in power.
“Doctor charged with sexually assaulting 6 women”
“Man who worked as doctor in Yorkton facing sexual assault charges”.
I think there is an important subtle difference in the words used in the two headlines, but a sinister difference in their insidious impact. The choice of discourse used in the second headline does a great job of disguising and softening the role and culpability of the medical profession. I actually read the second headline and wondered if they were describing a doctor, or someone pretending to be one.
The second headline also fails to mention that women were assaulted – the first one makes it very clear that women – many women – were sexually assaulted.
And why not call a spade a spade? The doctor was a gynecologist. Why not state that clearly?
Why does the choice of a few words matter?
Just as the winners write the history, those in power set the discourse. And linking even a single gynecologist to years of sexual assaults of multiple victims isn’t good for the pap industry.
As many posts and comments on this blog make clear, there is a big, powerful system that has worked for years to refine and reinforce pap test propaganda that makes it very hard to question the oppressive practices. “Sexual abuse under the guise of health care” is an accurate way of describing the current system (and a very good post).
For this story, something like this may have been more accurate and more helpful:
“Justice System and College of Physicians Fail Women, Again and Again”
I think my headline is still a little too soft on the issue … other suggested headlines?
I am a victim of Dr Levy. I filled a claim against him back in 2009, and the law firm turned me away. I’m apart of this class action law suit, and I don’t feel that what we are being rewarded is fare. I have suffered from depression, taking all kinds of medications to try and help me with my mental state. I thought I was going crazy, I used to tell my therapist that I thought Dr Levy was a ghost, because he sat in my room at night only. When the sun rise he was gone. I thought the stillborn baby I was delivering was about to be took from me by the angel of death! He Never introduced himself until my baby came out and then he stood up and shook my hand…I was really nervous to speak because he sat in my room for three nights just sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed! But I’m really glad that he was caught and it’s unable to harm anyone else. But I really think it doesn’t stop at this one Doctor
Dr. Nakita Levy was recommended to me because of my history of fibroids. Supposedly, he was the best doctor at Johns Hopkins to handle my issue. I never felt comfortable during the exams but I ignored it. This was my first time having a male gynecologist so I figured it was normal to feel a little uneasy.
One day, I confided in one of his colleagues (moderated) about my discomforts and she reassured me that he was a great doctor. In fact, everyone spoke highly of him. While I was waiting in the waiting room I over heard one lady say, she loves Dr. Levy; she even named her child after him. Still, there was something that just didn’t sit well with me but I couldn’t figure it out.
During the exam he would look straight into my eyes and ask “does this hurt” I would look away and cringed. His eyes were very cold and it look as if he had no soul; but I needed answers for my issue so I continued to ignore my feelings of apprehension.
The fibroids would cause me a lot of pain and I’d have really heavy menstrual cycles. Most days, I didn’t want to leave the house. I expressed my frustration to Dr. Levy and his response was “I’ll do a hysterectomy” I was only 35 years old at the time and although I had two daughters I wanted the option of having a son if I ever I chose to. I asked Dr. Levy if there was another alternative and he snapped at me, “if you’re in pain, just get the hysterectomy, you already have two children. It’s not a big deal!”
My eyes started to water. Not only was I saddened by the thought of having a hysterectomy at the age of 35, I was tired of the pain, the heavy bleeding and the feelings of insecurity; but most of all I didn’t feel cared for.
I didn’t want to have surgery but I wanted to believe Dr. Levy knew what was best. I scheduled the surgery, got my post-op prescription filled and I notified my job that I’d be out for surgery.
It was my last day of work before surgery and I was so depressed. All I wanted to do was cry. I didn’t want to have the surgery because I didn’t think it was the only alternative but I didn’t want the pain anymore either. I called the clinic to notify Dr. Levy’s nurse that I would not be having the surgery and I’m so glad I did.
I’m closing the book on this chapter of my life. I pray for his wife; I can’t imagine what she deals with knowing she was married to someone so disgusting. Take care, ladies!