Doctors sometimes take advantage of patients for their own sexual gratification. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, assault or misconduct committed by a doctor or healthcare professional, you have the right to file civil lawsuit against that doctor and the hospital or healthcare company that they work for. Bringing a civil lawsuit is separate from pressing criminal charges and successful plaintiffs can get significant financial compensation.
A lawsuit for sexual abuse or assault can be filed against the doctor who committed the act, as well as the hospital or institution that employs them. Filing a civil claim is a separate legal procedure from bringing criminal charges. Whereas a criminal case can lead to prison for the offender, only through a civil case can a survivor exact compensation for the traumatic harm that was done to them.
The sexual abuse lawyers at Miller & Zois represent victims of sexual assault by medical professionals and doctors. We can hold doctors and their employers accountable and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082.
What is Sexual Abuse By a Doctor?
Given that examinations often involve the exposure of intimate body parts and physical contact, identifying inappropriate behavior can be challenging. Generally, sexual assault by a medical professional occurs when a doctor violates your privacy by engaging in unwarranted sexual touching. Any type of sexual touching that does not have a valid medical purpose and is done for the purpose of sexual gratification is considered sexual abuse.
Below are some examples of sexual assault and abuse by doctors:
- Touching intimate areas without using gloves.
- Conducting procedures that feel unnecessary, such as touching sensitive areas or causing undue pain.
- Disregarding your right to privacy by refusing to allow a nurse to be present during examinations.
- Pressuring you to undress when it is unnecessary, such as insisting on removing clothing for a consultation about a non-related issue like a sprained ankle.
- Displaying sexually suggestive expressions or gestures before, during, and after examinations.
- Performing unnecessary vaginal or rectal examinations that involve attempts to sexually stimulate
- Pressuring you into medically unnecessary physical examinations, such as insisting on a gynecological exam when the visit is for a different purpose, like a flu shot.
- Engaging in voyeurism by installing video cameras in examination rooms and bathrooms.
- Making seductive or sexual remarks before, during, and after examinations.
- Coercing or forcing you into providing sexual favors in exchange for highly addictive drugs like hydromorphone and oxycontin.
- Taking photos of a patient without consent or without any medical purpose
Victims Have the Right to Sue Doctors for Sexual Assault
Sexual assault or abuse by a doctor or medical professional is a crime. Doctors who commit sexual assault are frequently criminally prosecuted and can have their medical license revoked. The problem with pursuing criminal charges is that you as the victim have no real control over the process. The authorities may or may not take you seriously and there is no guarantee that they will actually bring charges.
By contrast, every victim of sexual abuse by a doctor has a right to bring a civil lawsuit against the doctor for sexual battery. Victims can bring a sex abuse lawsuit against a doctor even if they never reported the abuse to the police or even told anyone about what happened.
Victims Can Get Financial Compensation for Doctor Sex Abuse
Victims who bring a successful civil lawsuit against a doctor for sexual assault can get financial compensation in the form of money damages. In a doctor sex abuse lawsuit, victims can be awarded money for the following categories of damages:
- Mental Pain & Suffering: Being sexually assault by a doctor is an emotionally harmful event. Victims can feel acute mental pain and distress as a result of the incident. It can often take years for victims of sexual abuse to fully heal and some never do. When victims bring a doctor sex abuse lawsuit, they are entitled to get money damages not just for past mental pain and suffering, but also for future pain and suffering caused by the abuse.
- Lost Income / Wages: The damaging impact of doctor sexual abuse can often result in lost wages or lost income as the victim may be unable to go to work or earn a living as before. Plaintiffs in sex assault cases can get compensation for past and future lost wages.
- Medical Expenses: Therapy and other forms of mental healthcare are often necessary for victims of doctor sexual abuse. If the victim brings a lawsuit they can get money damages for the cost (past and future) of this treatment.
Who Can File a Doctor Sex Assault Lawsuit?
Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse by a doctor can file a civil lawsuit. Spouses of the victim can also bring their own claims for loss of consortium which is basically damage to the marital relationship. If the victim of the sexual abuse is a child or an elderly person, their parents or family members can bring the case on their behalf.
Holding Hospitals and Third-Parties Liable for Doctor Sex Abuse
One major issue in doctor sexual abuse cases is that the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance may not cover the claim because it is considered an intentional act rather than a negligent act. For that reason, the key to success in many doctor sexual abuse lawsuits is to go after the hospital, health system, or medical practice that employed the doctor.
The doctor’s employer such as a hospital or healthcare system can be held liable in a sexual assault case if they knew or should have known about the doctor’s misconduct but did nothing about it. For example, let’s say Dr. T is an OB/GYN who has been employed for the last 10 years by Acme Heath System, a major hospital and healthcare company. During that time, Acme has received a number of complaints from Dr. T’s patients about inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. Despite receiving these complaints, Acme never does anything and allows Dr. T to continue treating patients. Acme can be held liable in sexual abuse lawsuit for negligently enabling Dr. T to abuse patients.
Examples of Doctor Sexual Abuse
There have been a number of well publicized instances in recent years of doctors being held accountable for sexually abusing and assault patients. Many of these doctors have been OB/GYNs sexually abusing vulnerable female patients during exams. However, any type of doctor or medical professional can commit sexual abuse. Below are examples of some of the more well-known cases of doctors committing sexual abuse.
Dr. Fabio Ortega – OB/GYN (Chicago Area)
Dr. Ortega was an OB/GYN in the Chicago area who was employed by NorthShore Health System. For decades, Dr. Ortega regularly sexually abused and assaulted female patients during exams. In 2021, Dr. Ortega pled guilty to criminal sexual assault charges. Over a dozen former patients of Dr. Ortega have filed civil lawsuits against NorthShore alleging that it repeatedly ignored complaints about Dr. Ortega’s misconduct and allowed him to continue working even after he was under criminal investigation.
Dr. Robert Hadden – OB/GYN (New York)
Dr. Hadden was an OB/GYN from Columbia University in New York who was accused of sexual assault by nearly 100 former female patients. The alleged abuse followed a very familiar pattern in which Dr. Hadden would engage in sexual touching during examinations. A very large group of women filed civil lawsuits against Dr. Hadden’s former employers (New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center) for failing to intervene and prevent the abuse.
Harry Bloomfield – Therapist (California)
Dr. Harold Bloomfield was a nationally known psychologist and author of many popular self-help books. Dr. Bloofield practiced in the San Diego area. In 2001, Dr. Bloomfield was criminally prosecuted for sexual abuse of patients and a group of 7 women brought civil lawsuits claiming that Dr. Bloomfield drugged them and then sexually assaulted them.
Settlement Value of Doctor Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
The settlement value of sexual abuse lawsuits against doctors depends on a number of factors. One of the biggest factors is whether there is a third-party employer, such as a hospital or healthcare system, that can be held liable. Intentional acts such as sexual abuse are typically not covered by a doctor’s malpractice insurance. That means that financial success in a doctor sex abuse case is very often dependent on having a strong third-party liability claim against the hospital or other institution. Below are examples of verdicts and settlements involving sexual abuse by doctors.
- 2022, Michigan: $490 Million Settlement. More than 1,000 people, including ex-college football players, leveled accusations of sexual abuse and assault against former University of Michigan sports doctor Robert Anderson. They asserted that Anderson subjected them to sexual assault and abuse during regular examinations, with the claim that the university did not adequately safeguard them from his actions. The University of Michigan has reached a settlement in these lawsuits, agreeing to pay $490 million.
- 2021, New York: $71.5 Million Settlement. A group of over 70 women accused former Columbia University OB/GYN Robert Hadden of sexual assault for inappropriately touching them during examinations. Not atypically, many women claimed Hadden became more intrusive during subsequent exams. Hundreds of other women filed similar lawsuits. New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center agreed to settle for $71.5 million.
- 2021, California: $1.1 Billion Settlement. Over 700 women accused former USC gynecologist George Tyndall of sexual assault during examinations. The lawsuits alleged that USC failed to protect them from Tyndall despite having reason to know about his actions. The university agreed to settle for $1.1 billion.
- 2017, Ohio: $867,500 Settlement: a 46-year-old female, reportedly suffered developed severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after her treating physician, defendant Terrence McCoy, then an internal medicine physician, initiated and engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with Beattie while treating her for mental health issues. The plaintiff contended the defendant committed medical malpractice in failing to adhere to minimal standards of care of similar practitioners under the same or similar circumstances.
Contact Us About a Doctor Sex Abuse Lawsuit
If a doctor or healthcare professional sexually abused you we can help you get justice. Contact us today online or call 800-553-8082 to learn more about how we may be able to help you.