Can Doctors Be Trusted After the Larry Nassar Scandal?

Doctors are meant to heal you when you’re wounded or ill. They’re meant to be individuals you can trust with your life and body. Never are they supposed to be the ones who harm.

We live in a world where people question whether they can truly trust their doctors. With the recent news covering the sex abuse scandal of Larry Nassar, many wonder if the medical professionals in their lives have their best interests at heart. Physicians like Nassar have twisted and manipulated their calling to serve not their patients, but their own desires.

With all the different news agencies reporting this story, it’s hard to decipher what actually happened. Also, what are some warning signs that your doctor is abusive? How can you find one you can trust?

Who Is Larry Nassar?

Larry Nassar wasn’t just any doctor. Not only was he chief medical coordinator of USA Gymnastics, he was also employed at Michigan State, working as a teacher and physician. Nassar was talented and respected; people were seen as lucky to receive his care.

Who wouldn’t trust a reputation like that? With US Olympians and athletes in need of excellent care, Nassar was the obvious choice. However, patients had no idea the kind of care they would receive.

To take advantage of someone who came to you in need of help is beyond deplorable. The way USA Gymnastics and Michigan State handled the case is equally depraved as well. Both of these institutions were given countless reports from patients who were abused by Nassar.

Athletes told other coaches and faculty members about Nassar, but they received reprimands instead of understanding and action. Months passed before anything was really done about it. Even when investigations were performed, Nassar still saw patients.

Who knows how many more individuals he would have harmed if Rachael Denhollander didn’t publically speak out against the abuse she received from Nassar? After Denhollander and others stepped out, it gave courage to even more past patients to tell their stories.

It’s because of these women that Nassar was sentenced to prison for up to 175 years and that major changes have been implemented in USA Gymnastics as well as at Michigan State. Athletes are now put first and teaching professionals are educated on how to spot and react to signs of trauma in their classrooms.      

Reactions From Churches

So what did the faith community have to say? Unfortunately, in Denhollander’s case, nothing good. She found that some church communities were twisting biblical teachings and advising victims to forgive their abuser and leave things at that.

Denhollander goes on to say in an interview, “Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse because the way it is counseled is, more often than not, damaging to the victim.”

Although not all churches are like this, congregations can work on being more receptive and understanding of victims and the physical and mental wounds they may have. Many churches offer counseling services, but not all of them are equipped with experienced personnel in crisis counseling specifically to effectively care for victims of abuse.

So finding the right professionals and training church staff is critical in helping victims of abuse. Protocols should also be in place so that the right courses of action can be taken every time, involving the police when needed.

Can You Trust Your Doctor?

News like this makes you question whether yourself and loved ones are in good hands when visiting a doctor. When Nassar abused his patients, he’d say it was for medical reasons and completely professional.

Parents were sometimes even in the same room, unaware the abuse was taking place. This leads to the chilling realization that you may not know if you or close ones are being abused. So the question is: can you trust your doctor?

The answer is mostly yes. Many doctors won’t be like Larry Nassar, but there are some who are. So before scheduling an appointment, research the physician you plan to visit. Are they board-certified?

Have they been disciplined in the past? You can find this information by searching the doctor’s name at, a site created by the Federation of State Medical Boards. Get recommendations from friends and family and from other medical professionals in your area as well.

Once you meet the doctor, scrutinize everything. The best thing you can do is trust your instincts and decide if boundaries were crossed. Keep in mind that abuse from a doctor isn’t always sexual either.

Doctors can emotionally abuse their patients and negligence can lead to unnecessary or fatal operating mistakes due to bad asset management. So keep your eyes open and if you dislike something or feel uncomfortable at all, it’s time to see a new physician.

During Denhollander’s impact speech, she posed the question about how much a little girl is worth. She is worth everything. What Nassar did was abhorrently wrong, and USA Gymnastics and Michigan State cannot escape blame either.

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