Sexual Abuse in Hospitals—The Ugly Truth
We place a high degree of trust in doctors and other medical professionals to take care of patients and treat them with dignity. It’s very disturbing when this trust is broken. And it’s totally inexcusable when patients are intentionally violated in a sexual manner.
Sadly, we’re beginning to discover that sexual abuse in hospitals is much more common than we may have feared. Recent investigations and high-profile cases demonstrate that hospitals, medical boards, and other authorities are frequently far too lenient when it comes to discovering and punishing these offenders.
Patients of all ages and genders may experience sexual abuse. And perpetrators often take advantage of the most vulnerable patients, such as children, the elderly, and people who are under the influence of anesthesia.
How Common Is Medical Sexual Abuse?
It’s now come to light that Larry Nassar abused more than 100 girls and women while working as the team doctor for the US Olympic Gymnastics Team and Michigan State University. The University, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and U.S.A. Gymnastics have been forced to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to aid the victims of this enormous crime. And Dr. Nassar has been sentenced to over 175 years in prison.
Investigative journalists at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed public documents to uncover rampant sexual abuse that has taken place in hospital throughout the nation. This includes several doctors who have all been allowed to abuse hundreds of victims.
Rape, fondling, molestation, improper touching, and inappropriate sexual language are all examples of sexual abuse that taken place in hospitals across the country. These crimes were committed by various types of medical professionals and staff members, including:
- General practitioners
- Maintenance workers
Who Is Liable for Hospital Sexual Abuse?
One of the most shocking elements of the hospital sexual abuse scandal is measures taken by public and private officials to hide these cases from the public. Hospitals, medical boards, and medical professionals have gone to great lengths to protect abusers from accountability for their actions. In fact, board hearings to discuss these matters are often held in secret.
In many states, doctors who have had their licenses revoked for sexual misconduct involving a patient can be reinstated. Medical boards will often accept the testimony of a therapist who states that the abuser has been “cured,” and they are now safe to be with patients.
In addition to the people who commit these heinous actions, administrators, hospitals, medical practices, and state and university medical systems can all be held liable for the harm patients suffer from sexual abuse. Grounds for a civil lawsuit include:
- Negligent hiring
- Lack of oversight
- Insufficient reporting policies
- Failure to dismiss offenders
- Willful disregard for patient safety
What Hospitals Must Do to Keep Us Safe
Hospitals must implement the necessary policies and procedures to prevent the negligent hiring practices and lack of oversight that allow sexual abuse to occur. Essential safeguards to prevent hospital sexual abuse include:
- Background checks
- Verification of credentials
- Training programs for new and current employees
- Mandatory incident reports
- Straightforward and consistent rules for documentation
- Clear and mandatory investigative procedures
How Your Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
Many hospitals have an unofficial code of silence that prevents people from coming forward, even when there are obvious red flags indicating the presence of sexual abuse. But this type of behavior violates medical ethics, state and federal law, and common human decency.
If you or a loved one was harmed by sexually inappropriate behavior in a medical setting, contact the experienced medical malpractice trial attorneys at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. Our team will investigate the hospital and then we’ll file a claim against anyone whose negligence was responsible for harm endured by an innocent patient.
Damages are often significant in hospital sexual abuse malpractice cases due to traumatic nature of the harm these unspeakable actions cause, including severe emotional distress, PTSD, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Call (303) 759-9945 to schedule a consultation at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. today. We have won record-breaking settlements for our clients, and we’re ready to fight for you and your family.