AG Platkin, Division of Consumer Affairs Announce Proposed Rules to Combat Sexual Misconduct and Abuse in Physician Exam Rooms

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Cari Fais, Acting Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Lisa Coryell

TRENTON – Advancing New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to combat sexual misconduct and abuse in professional settings, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“Division”) today announced the publication of proposed rules to enhance and expand patient protections and help prevent sexual misconduct by physicians.

The proposed rules, which were published in the New Jersey Register today, would amend the Board of Medical Examiners’ existing rules to enhance patient safety and reduce the risk of physician misconduct by:

  • increasing public awareness of a patient’s right to have an observer present during sensitive examinations, including breast, pelvic, genitalia, and rectal exams, and to decline care if an observer acceptable to the patient is unavailable, and extending these rights to all patients, regardless of gender identity or expression;
  • ensuring that all patients – including those with limited English proficiency – understand their right to have an observer present before the exam begins;
  • ensuring that observers are medically knowledgeable and trained to serve as effective checks on physicians who perform sensitive exams; and
  • requiring physicians to complete post-licensure education aimed at preventing sexual misconduct in the medical profession.

“New Jersey is committed to rooting out and preventing sexual misconduct and abuse in professional settings, including doctors’ offices, where such breaches cause lasting harm to patients and tarnish the integrity of the medical profession,” said Attorney General Platkin. “My office will continue to use all available tools – including the regulatory powers of our licensing boards – to ensure that New Jerseyans are treated with dignity and respect by the health care professionals in whom they place their trust.”

“Together with our Board of Medical Examiners, we are taking steps to protect patients when they are at their most vulnerable and to educate physicians on best practices during sensitive exams,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “These measures advance our goal of eradicating sexual misconduct and abuse from professional settings.”

Key aspects of the new rules include:

  • requiring physicians to both provide patients with a written notice of their right to have an observer present during sensitive examinations and conspicuously post the notice in a way that ensures that patients are aware of their rights;
  • requiring physicians to make the notice available in English, Spanish, and any of the 10 or more other languages identified by the Director of the Division as the first language of a significant number of persons in the state;
  • requiring physicians to confirm that patients have read and understood the notice – before proceeding with a sensitive examination;
  • removing any reference to “males” or “females” in establishing the right to an observer to afford all patients these rights, regardless of gender identity or expression;
  • mandating that observers be health care professionals licensed by the Board of Medical Examiners or the Board of Nursing, or Certified Medical Assistants; and
  • requiring physicians to complete two continuing medical education credit hours in programs or topics related to sexual misconduct prevention. Required topics include understanding sexual misconduct, including its forms and types; obtaining informed consent for sensitive procedures; understanding how to interact with victims of sexual abuse or harassment; understanding the power dynamics underlying sexual misconduct in the health care field; promoting bystander intervention and understanding the duty to report misconduct; and recognizing and reporting cases of human trafficking.

The proposed rules and information on submitting a comment can be viewed here. All comments must be submitted by June 14, 2024.


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