USC Scandal Sparks A Reckoning In Gynecology: How To Better Protect Patients?

By Soumya Karlamangla
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Soumya Karlamangla reports, “The accusations against USC campus gynecologist George Tyndall, which the doctor strongly denies, have roiled USC, leading to the departure of university President Max C.L. Nikias and a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department as hundreds of women have come forward.”

LOS ANGELES

For some University of Southern California students who visited campus gynecologist George Tyndall, it was obvious right away that something was wrong. They said he touched them in inappropriate ways, made bizarre comments and acted unprofessionally.

Others said they left feeling uneasy but weren’t sure what to make of Tyndall’s behavior. It wasn’t until the Los Angeles Times revealed years of misconduct allegations against the doctor that these patients said they began to come to terms with those exams.

The accusations against Tyndall, which the doctor strongly denies, have roiled USC, leading to the departure of university President Max C.L. Nikias and a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department as hundreds of women have come forward.

But it’s also becoming a moment of reckoning and reflection within the world of gynecology, as doctors and medical ethicists debate how to address the scandal and make patients feel safer and more educated.

Dr. Sheryl Ross, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Santa Monica, said some doctors have gotten away with bad behavior because patients see them as superheroes, recognizable not by their capes but their white coats. For years, she has heard from women who have had uncomfortable or problematic experiences with doctors, much like those reported about Tyndall.

“When you have hundreds of people who either didn’t report it, or slowly reported it to only fall on deaf ears, it just speaks to a very broken system in medicine,” Ross said.

The scandal has been particularly tough for some male gynecologists, who say that even before the Tyndall case they were struggling as patients increasingly opt for female doctors.

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