Sexual Abuse by Hospitals and Medical Centers
Class action lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by doctors and other medical professionals have been filed against hospitals and universities across the United States. Sexual abuse by medical professionals not only violates a sacred relationship based on trust; it contravenes the Hippocratic oath to protect one’s patient and refrain from inflicting harm. The psychological and emotional harm sustained by patients who have experienced sexual abuse by doctors- whom they implicitly trust to perform necessary medical procedures- can have long lasting consequences.
Sexual Abuse in a Medical Environment
Sexual abuse of both adult and young patients occurs under the guise of medical treatment. The patient may be uncertain whether the conduct even qualifies as abuse. This is especially true when the patient is a child or young adult. Many high-profile cases of sexual abuse by doctors involve long-standing patterns of misconduct against dozens or hundreds of patients. The former USA gymnastics national team doctor, Larry Nassar, was convicted of molesting over 250 young girls while employed at Michigan State University. Dr. Reginald Archibald, a physician at Rockefeller University Hospital, sexually abused thousands of young patients that he treated for growth disorders. University of Southern California physician, Dr. Dennis Kelly, is reported to have abused dozens of young male students over a period of 20 years. Another USC doctor, gynecologist George Tyndall, resigned in 2017 without being reported to law enforcement and the University has agreed to pay $215 million to his accusers for sexual abuse claims. Dr. Robert Hadden, an OB/GYN at Columbia University, is now being sued by 25 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, this is just a sampling of the hundreds of legal claims against medical professionals and the institutions for whom they worked. Many of the cases share a common feature – accusers claim that the medical facility or university that employed these doctors failed to follow-up and stop the perpetrators and, in some cases, covered up their actions.
Hospitals Fail to Protect Patient Safety
A 2017 report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that examined over 6,000 cases of sexual misconduct among 2,400 doctors discovered that two-thirds of doctors were allowed to continue practicing medicine despite reputable evidence that they had sexually abused patients. Approximately half of the 2,400 doctors disciplined for sexual misconduct between 1999 and 2017 are still licensed to practice medicine. The physician may have been suspended for a number of years and then permitted to resume practicing medicine.
Because victims often sign confidentiality agreements when settling with the accused, other patients are never notified that their health care provider may be guilty of sexual abuse. Doctors and hospitals are not obligated to report that one of their employees or staff members has been disciplined or is currently under investigation for sexual misconduct. Moreover, hospitals or institutions that cover up the abuse may simply terminate the physician without reporting the reason for termination to future employers or law enforcement. Thereafter, the perpetrator may simply relocate, acquire new patients, and resume his abusive conduct.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a doctor, medical professional or hospital employee, please contact our lawyers for a free and confidential consultation by calling 1-800-225-9825 or submitting an email inquiry on this page.