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Sexual Assault in Hospitals: How Common Is It?

Jun 09, 2022
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Sexual assault in any circumstance is devastating. When we are patients looking for care and medical assistance in a hospital, we expect the utmost respect and professionalism from our health care providers. Patients are often in their most vulnerable state, experiencing debilitating effects from medication or finding themselves physically incapable of moving normally. Although it is incomprehensible that a trusted medical professional would be capable of committing sexual assault against a patient, unfortunately, it is a possibility.

Sexual assault by doctors or health care professionals can occur to patients of any age, in any physical or mental state. There is no connection between education or professionalism and the probability of committing sexual assault. Survivors may be uncomfortable and not confident coming forward to report the crime, especially if it was committed under the guise of medical care. However, by speaking up, survivors can help hold medical professionals, hospitals, and medical facilities accountable for failing to keep patients safe, and in doing so, they may help prevent future assaults from occurring.

Schedule a free legal consultation with the hospital sexual abuse lawyers at Edwards Pottinger to help you understand your legal rights and pursue justice against your abuser. Our team is dedicated to helping you navigate and overcome these trying times.

Key Takeaways

  • Hospital sexual abuse may include inappropriate touching, failure to wear gloves while examining sexual organs, and more.
  • Since 1999, more than 3,100 doctors have faced disciplinary consequences for sexual assault.
  • If you were sexually abused by a medical professional, contact Edwards Pottinger for help.

What is Hospital Sexual Abuse and How Does It Happen?

Hospital sex abuse occurs when a doctor, nurse, physician, or any other medical facility employee exploits their position in caring for a patient to assault or abuse them. The act commonly includes any sexual act that is nonconsensual or makes the patient feel uncomfortable.

Hospital sexual abuse can include rape and other nonconsensual sexual acts and touching. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), activities that may also be considered a form of hospital sexual abuse include:

  • Touching patients inappropriately, especially when it is not necessary for administering care.
  • Failing to use gloves while examining sexual organs.
  • Insisting that a patient reveal body parts that are not part of the medical examination.
  • Failure to tell a patient what they are doing and why they are doing it, particularly during a breast, vaginal, rectal, pelvic, or teste exam.
  • Refusing to have another medical professional in the room when a patient requests.

The Public Citizen’s Health Research Group recently conducted a study to help determine the most common types of hospital sexual abuse. They found that of the survivors they surveyed, 33% of patients experienced inappropriate touching, 31% experienced sodomy, 16% experienced rape, and 14% were cases of child molestation.

How Common is Sexual Assault in Hospitals?

Sexual predators often find ways to exploit their power and sadly a medical setting offers them plenty of opportunities to do so. Sexual abusers often seek out individuals who are vulnerable. This is why hospitals and healthcare organizations must be vigilant when it comes to monitoring their staff and the well-being of their patients, and reporting acts of sexual assault to the authorities if they do occur.

There have been many sexual abuse lawsuits filed against hospitals and healthcare facilities that have recently gained public attention, such as:

  • In North Carolina, a woman filed a $50 million lawsuit against a hospital alleging that she was sexually molested by a former medical director.
  • More than 80 individuals recently filed a lawsuit against a New York City hospital. The complaint claims that a former pediatric endocrinologist abused them while they were children under his care. 
  • A Connecticut certified nursing assistant confessed to sexually assaulting his helpless, unconscious, or heavily medicated patients. It is reported that he did this to nearly 100 patients. One of the survivors filed a lawsuit against the hospital that formerly employed him, alleging that they played a role in facilitating the abuse.

An investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that since 1999, more than 3,100 doctors have faced disciplinary consequences for sexual assault. Of that number, roughly 2,400 involved patients but only half of those doctors had their medical licenses revoked.

What You Can Do If You Suspect You Were Abused By a Medical Professional

If you or someone you know suspects that you were sexually abused by a medical professional, you may be eligible for compensation. Survivors can report their abusers and hold them accountable for their actions by facing the proper penalties under the law in a criminal trial. They can also gather evidence of the assault and report it to the appropriate authorities, like hospital staff, local police, and the National Sexual Assault Hotline for additional resources.

Another option available to some survivors includes pursuing a lawsuit in civil court. A hospital sex abuse lawsuit helps hold any responsible party liable for compensation of damages. In most cases, this is the hospital or other medical facility where the assault occurred.

In a civil case, an individual can seek compensation for economic damages (relevant medical expenses, lost wages if they had to take off from work as a result of the assault, counseling, and therapy costs, etc.) and non-economic damages (anxiety, depression, pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.). Consulting a sex crime attorney at Edwards Pottinger can aid you with navigating all of the damages you may be compensated for to ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.

Why Should I Contact a Hospital Sex Abuse Attorney?

It is imperative to contact a sex abuse attorney as soon as possible when you, or someone you know, has been sexually assaulted by a medical professional. The attorneys at Edwards Pottinger are experienced, understanding advocates who deliver results. We can help you seek the justice you deserve, fight for fair compensation, and provide additional support and resources as you navigate these difficult times. Schedule your free legal consultation to get started today.

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