Patients expect their doctors and nurses, as well as other hospital employees, to treat them with courtesy, and respect. However, when a patient is left under the care and supervision of some practitioners, they could be at risk. Some medical staff will exploit their patients' susceptibility and commit acts of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and physical assault. This is especially the case when the patients are extremely ill, have mobility problems, or have an aftereffect from certain medications.

When hospital facilities fail to care for and keep their patients safe from harm, and the patients are raped or sexually abused, the hospital may share culpability for the patient's damages.

Contacting an attorney with years of professional experience defending sexual assault survivors in healthcare facilities is critical to help establish your case and sue the sexual offender. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a doctor or any other medical practitioner in California, you can contact us at the Sex Crimes Attorney. We will help defend your rights and see that justice is served.

What is Hospital Sexual Abuse?

Even though medical practitioners, psychiatric experts, and professionals employed in the medical and mental health industries are not often reported for sexual harassment, cases of sexual abuse in hospitals exist. Doctors or other medical practitioners might take advantage of their social standing to get admission to and assault their patients.

Sexual assault is a broad category of an act that can be perpetrated by anybody. It is commonly considered to include any sexual act that a patient did not consent to or that made them feel uncomfortable. Acts of sexual abuse might include rape, attempted rape, stroking or nonconsensual touching, and aggressively or emotionally trying to coerce a person to engage in sexual activities like penetrative sex or oral sex.

Medical workers and others who practice in a medical setting can frequently access all of the aforementioned forms of sexual assault. Some instances of sexual assault may occur when the victim is partially dressed, partially asleep, or when they have been immobilized. When a doctor leaves a patient naked or exposed, it could be indicative of a habit of sexual abuse. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the following activities can be classified as hospital sexual abuse:

  • Insisting that the patient should expose or reveal areas of the body that are not part of the medical examination

  • Examining the sexual organs without the use of gloves

  • Failure to have someone else in the room

  • Inquiring about sexual activities in a way that makes the patient feel uncomfortable

  • Refusing to respond to questions or telling the victim to be silent

  • Failure to tell the patient what they're doing or why they're doing it

Hospital sexual abuse can occur in a variety of settings, like doctors' offices, clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

Prevalence of Hospital Sexual Abuse

A study carried out by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution used public reports from each state to show the prevalence of sexual abuse cases in hospitals. The report surveyed approximately 100,000 legal disciplinary records that had been submitted since the beginning of 1999. The study determined over 3,100 medical practitioners were under public order of discipline after having been indicted for sexual violations. Of the aforementioned number of doctors, over 2,400 of them faced disciplinary action for the violations against their patients.

90,000 out of the 100,000 documents showed disciplinary action against the perpetrators for violations that did not include sexual assault. However, these reports do not indicate the number of sexual abuse survivors who did not report instances of sexual assault violations.

Hospital Sexual Abuse Lawsuits in the Media

There have been several high-profile examples of sexual assault in hospitals as well as psychiatric institutions, including:

  • In 2013, a nursing assistant in a Salt Lake City children’s hospital had access to an 11-year-old patient’s room, raised his medical gown, and sexually abused him. The assistant was suspended from work and later terminated from practicing by the children’s hospital since the young and brave survivor reported what had happened to him

  • A doctor in Missouri asked his patient questions about her sexual persuasions while he was administering treatment for urinary issues. He admitted to becoming aroused after posing these questions. He decided to give up his license, demonstrating that a doctor's sexual assault doesn't need to feature bodily or sexual contact

  • In September 2011, a practicing nurse at Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Florida inappropriately touched a patient throughout her hospital stay

  • In a rare case of a sexual attack at a hospital institution in the Bronx, a man crept into a hospital room belonging to an elderly woman and sexually abused her while her roommate was present. Although the patient was not hurt by a hospital employee, the hospital was obligated to look after and safeguard the survivor, and the hospital's inability to do so holds them accountable for the patient's injuries

  • Twenty former patients who were admitted to a New Kent County children's hospital in Virginia, brought a case alleging that the previous medical director improperly touched the young female patients while undergoing routine checkups. The complaint also alleged that other patients were sexually and physically assaulted by other patients

  • In Missouri, a licensed nurse assistant working for CoxHealth was fired after being charged with sodomy, sexual assault, and elderly abuse. According to the 75-year-old male patient, the nurse assistant entered his hospital room and offered to bathe him. He then drew the curtains around his bed and went ahead to sexually assault him and force him to carry out sexual activities on him. When CoxHealth was notified of the accusations, the staff was suspended from caring for patients and later fired

Where Do the Majority of Sex Abuse Incidents Occur in Hospitals?

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere inside a hospital, and it can involve medical employees from any specialty. As stated by a research study published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, certain sexual assault victims are sedated at the time of the abuse. Other assaulted patients, some of whom were minors, were unaware that sexual assault was occurring because they believed their doctor was providing genuine medical care. Irrespective of the conditions leading to the sexual offense, many patients undergoing treatment in psychiatric institutions, wards, or units are more vulnerable to abuse.

According to a 1994 report, a study carried out between the years 1985 and 1991 involving 255 administrators of psychiatric institutions showed that at least 36 percent of units received patient complaints of sexual abuse by a member of staff.

According to studies, most of the sexual offenders in hospitals are hospital personnel, including caregivers like doctors, nurses, and therapists, as well as support personnel like specialists and carriers. Sexual offenders have a greater opportunity to commit these crimes because these professions allow for more close contact between personnel and their patients.

Sexual assaults are also widespread among those entrusted with authority. The duties of hospital staff enhance this power imbalance because of patients' inherent vulnerability, particularly children and teenagers, as well as the close or other times intimate physical engagement required to perform medical procedures and treatments. Patients put a lot of faith in their doctors, who could sometimes exploit or violate that confidence.

Liability for Hospital Sexual Abuse

Once hospitals fail to safeguard the patients who have been placed under their supervision, they could be held accountable for any sexual abuse that occurs. Respondeat superior, a widespread claim raised in cases, is centered on the premise that an entity is liable for its workers' actions. However, it is rarely successful.

Most courts have previously determined that the offender's offenders of hospital sexual misconduct did not fit within the limits of their profession, an essential component of a respondeat superior claim, nullifying the employer's legal liability. By far the most effective lawsuit filed on behalf of a sexual abuse victim is one alleging managerial negligence in recruiting methods or monitoring standards.

Failing to complete pre-employment background screenings, authenticate essential applicant information, and take additional pre-employment actions that encourage care and responsibility when vetting new employees can make the hospital accountable under the negligent recruitment principle.

The hospital may also be held liable on a negligent supervisory basis for failing to act appropriately regarding the threats that staff members were present with or for failing to implement rules and protocols that guaranteed appropriate treatment and patient care.

A negligence lawsuit requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the person responsible owes a duty of care to the afflicted person, that duty of care was violated, that the violation was the reason for the aggrieved party's injuries, and also that the violation caused serious damage to the aggrieved party.

The ideal argument for proving that the institution acted negligently in sexual abuse is to establish that the occurrence was predictable because the institution was irresponsible in recruiting or monitoring its personnel.

California Law on Seeking Compensation for Sexual Assault

Whenever it concerns guaranteeing rights and protections for patients in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric institutions, or any other 24-hour medical institution, the legal provisions in California are reasonably clear.

A medical center could be held accountable for negligent acts, such as hiring, negligent management, or retaining any staff member who is a sexual abuse offender. This necessitates demonstrating that the healthcare professional "knew" or, more generally, "should have been aware" that the perpetrator was unqualified for the task at hand.

Do Hospitals Cover Sexual Abuse Cases?

Hospitals have been found to conceal sexual assault cases in their institutions in the past, according to past lawsuits and probes. In several instances, hospitals refuted the charges, arguing that the victim had hallucinations caused by post-anesthesia or certain medications.

Hospitals that conspire to conceal their staffs' crimes frequently claim that the patients merely misinterpreted standard care owing to insufficient clarifications about what might or might not happen in the procedure. At times, there is an absence of record-keeping within the institution. Unfortunately, since the hospital management fails to recognize the patient, complaints of hospital sexual assault are rarely submitted to legal authorities.

In the matter of sexual assaults by hospital staff, the primary goal of a hospital institution is to preserve the public's impression that such horrible acts are uncommon and to retain the significant health system's clean reputation.

Although some hospitals attempt to conceal complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault lawyers are experienced and competent in this delicate area of the law. They can communicate with facilities and healthcare institutions to guarantee that victims of hospital sexual misconduct get justice and restitution for what they deserve.

How Can Hospitals Prevent Acts of Sexual Abuse Against Their Patients?

Below are several ways that hospital facilities can prevent sexual abuse of patients:

  • Improved background screenings and authentication of credentials and certifications for candidates and prospective new personnel

  • Improved training initiatives for prospective and current employees to help them spot warning signals of abuse or red flags made by other staff members' conduct or behavior

  • Establish clear and simple reporting specifications in place so that the hospital's patients, as well as other staff, can efficiently reveal someone who displays warning signs of sexual assault or commits sexual violence

  • The hospital should stress and make sure that all employees comprehend the need to report other personnels' unethical, improper, or dubious acts when developing and executing hospital sexual misconduct reporting procedures

  • Hospitals must have specific and standard policies in place after exposing employees’ behaviors that are indicative of hospital sexual misconduct so that each report is treated in the same way irrespective of who is bringing the complaint or who is being reported

Filing a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against a Doctor

Filing a sexual abuse case can provide survivors and their families with justice and entitlement to financial compensation. Taking legal action against a doctor or a medical institution, for instance, might draw attention to sex crimes perpetrated by healthcare professionals in the community, potentially shielding prospective patients from any harm. Doctors can be sued for sexual assault by several parties, including:

  • A survivor of sexual abuse

  • The parent or caregiver of a young child

  • Members of the victim's family (in cases where the survivor has died)

  • Partner or the spouse of the victim (they can sue for lost consortium)

  • Witnesses (they can sue for emotional suffering)

The Proof You Will Need to Substantiate Your Allegations of Hospital Sexual Abuse

Obtaining evidence to substantiate your hospital sexual assault claim can be difficult since it necessitates actual paperwork, records, and data that, in most cases, are only available to the hospital. Your sexual abuse lawyer will advise you on the best ways to obtain the proof you require to prove your case.

You might require the following proof:

  • The offender's employment details and employment record from the human resource management or their division

  • Background searches, authentication of qualifications, interviews, professional background checks, and other HR practices and procedures are all part of the hiring process

  • Any incident records regarding the offender generally and your incident in particular, as well as all inquiry files and police statements

  • All patient claims submitted in the last three years, particularly previous allegations of sexual abuse and records or disciplinary measures taken as a result of those inquiries, as well as records of statements submitted to law enforcement or other organizations

  • All hospital rules and procedures, as well as a record of accusation responses and witness testimony

  • You'll need any documentation of physical impairments, such as health records, prescriptions, or memberships

  • Proof to back up your allegation that punitive penalties are required and necessary

  • Anything else your lawyer thinks is necessary to prove your case

Obtaining and organizing all these details and evidence can seem overwhelming, especially for someone who has been sexually assaulted in a medical setting. However, a hospital sexual abuse lawyer can assist you. Survivors of sexual assault need to be allowed to pursue justice and also financial restitution for the harm they suffered in a facility that was supposed to safeguard them.

Your attorney can take care of the necessary (and often daunting) paperwork to assist you in pursuing your civil case and receiving the justice you deserve to move forward with your rehabilitation and healing.

Statute of Limitations on Filing a Sexual Abuse Claim

Statutes of limitations set a temporal limit on a plaintiff's ability to bring legal action against their perpetrator when they file a lawsuit. Previously, victims of sexual assault had to file a lawsuit within 8 years of attaining age 18 in California or within 3 years since the date of discovery. The "date of discovery" is the day that sexual abuse survivors understand that their injury or mental illness arose from sexual assault.

However, in the last decade, understanding the prevalence of sexual assault and what it comprises has become significantly more common than before. What will happen when someone recognizes they've been sexually abused but it's been eight years since they turned 18? What if the survivor discovers they have been sexually abused more than three years after the date of discovery? In light of such circumstances, California's governor signed Assembly Bill 218 into effect, which stretches the limitation period for sexual abuse lawsuits.

In California, sexual assault victims can bring a lawsuit 22 years following the incident, instead of the 8 years following their 18th birthday. The period following discovery was increased from three to five years. A provision in AB 218 applies to events that took place well over 22 years ago. Victims of abuse who experienced it over 22 years ago will have a three-year opportunity to pursue legal action.

The law covers all occurrences of sexual harassment in California, whether perpetrated by a single person or even a group of people. In other words, whether you were subjected to medical or psychiatric sex assault by someone else, you can still file a claim. The new legislation is an important step in the right direction for survivors of sexual abuse.

The statute of limitations for hospital sexual assault allegations differs from state to state as well as the individual claim, making it even more critical that you contact your sexual assault lawyer as early as possible to submit your complaint. This can help you avoid being restricted by time limitations, allowing you to pursue legal actions against the perpetrators and seek financial restitution for your damages.

Reporting Sexual Abuse by a Medical Professional

If you suspect you have evidence involving hospital sexual assault, you have several alternatives for reporting it, including options for doing so discreetly. Here are some community services that are equipped to handle and handle abuse allegations:

  • The local police authorities

  • A children's services organization in your community

  • Staff from a hospital or a general practitioner

  • A guidance counselor or your teacher

  • Your therapist

  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline connects victims with police agencies or medical facilities for examinations

How a Hospital Sexual Abuse Attorney Will Help You

Hospital sexual assault attorneys will provide you with the required assistance and counsel, helping you in making decisions about your claim and navigating the judicial system as you seek justice. Your attorney can serve as an intermediary or advocate for you, carrying out your constitutional desires and ensuring that your rights are respected. The justice system can be intimidating at times, particularly for a survivor of hospital sexual abuse who must navigate the complexities of both the judicial and healthcare systems.

After you've met with and hired a hospital sexual assault lawyer, you'll undoubtedly talk about how you will approach and carry out the lawsuit. After choosing a good strategic plan and creating a pathway that will get you reimbursed for your damages, your lawyer will gather and keep proof to back up your claim, which will assist in the establishment of a favorable outcome.

Find a Hospital Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me

If you have been sexually assaulted or abused while undergoing any kind of treatment at a hospital in California, feel free to contact the Sex Crimes Attorney for a free initial, complimentary consultation. We'll pay attention to your case, ensure your story is heard, and you get compensation for what you went through. Please contact us at 888-666-8480. Our hospital sexual abuse lawyers are available to assist you.