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< Case 2 of 6 >


It was one of those things you think will never happen to you. Until it does. 

The nightmare began like any other day, a busy shift on A&E. One of my patients, a woman in her mid-20s, presented with some retrosternal chest discomfort, but was otherwise fit and healthy. I recorded the clinical history, undertook cardiovascular and abdominal exams, and all the relevant tests came back normal. I diagnosed gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gave advice on treatment and lifestyle, and she left seeming happy enough. 

I had no idea how horrendous the situation was about to become.  

I just had no idea what to do

By the end of what was a long shift, I was looking forward to getting home, having dinner and relaxing in front of the TV. But just as I was about to leave, the Medical Director and Head of HR appeared. They said they wanted a word. 

They sat me down and told me that the woman I’d seen earlier had made an allegation of sexual assault. She said I had touched her inappropriately while examining her. The police were getting involved. 

I was completely knocked for six, shocked, panicked. I couldn’t understand why the accusation had been made – it was a routine examination, nothing untoward. I just had no idea what to do. Then I made one of the best decisions of my life. I called Medical Protection. 

I was no longer in freefall and could see a way through

It’s hard to put into words the difference this call made. They assigned me a medicolegal consultant and a solicitor straight away. As we got into the practicalities, I was no longer in freefall and could see a way through. The solicitor helped me to draft a statement and told me exactly what to expect from the police interview. 

That interview was the most daunting thing I’ve ever faced. Without my solicitor by my side, I can’t see how I would have got through it.

A few days later, I was told there would be no further action – it had all been a misunderstanding. I was beyond relieved. But the high soon gave way to depression. I was physically and mentally wiped out. My confidence was on the floor. Most of all, I was distraught at having caused a patient distress, despite it being completely unintentional . 

Once again, Medical Protection came to the rescue, with access to free confidential counselling. Those sessions were a lifesaver. I could not have coped without them. Getting my confidence back wasn’t easy. I had to focus on why I became a consultant in the first place. It was almost like starting again from there. 

Throughout it all, Medical Protection were there, fighting my corner

Reflecting back on the whole thing, I’ve learned an enormous amount. I should have taken more detailed notes. I should have explained to the patient what I was doing and why, and offered her a chaperone. My eyes have been well and truly opened to the fact that patients don’t always understand how the examinations we need to carry out are related to their symptoms – which can lead to confusion and even distress. Yes, A&E is so busy it’s easy to forget or rush things that might be considered non-essential. But I never will again.  

Throughout it all, Medical Protection were there, fighting my corner. You wouldn’t necessarily believe a company that said they were always there for you, but Medical Protection genuinely are. They come immediately to your defence, with an incredible amount of expertise and practical support. They also bring empathy and understanding – they employ doctors throughout the organisation, so they have invaluable insight into our world. 

Although the situation was quickly resolved , it will stay with me forever. As will my sincere appreciation for Medical Protection. 

Get protection you can depend on from just £549*

This case is based on a real scenario, with some facts altered to preserve confidentiality.

*Cost shown is the annual membership price for a UK Medical Consultant working exclusively in the NHS. Subject to protection requirements and underwriting approval.

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