Medical professionals, including doctors, take care of vulnerable patients every day as part of their job. However, there are times when professionals will abuse their patients’ trust due to their positions of power. Sexual assault by a medical professional is a type of medical malpractice that affects thousands of Americans each year. Survivors don’t have to live with the pain of their assault on their own.
If a medical professional sexually abused you, The Eichholz Law Firm can get you the compensation and justice you rightfully deserve to help you recover.
What Is Doctor Sexual Assault?
By definition, doctor sexual assault is considered medical malpractice, as it violates the American Medical Association’s (AMA) code of ethics, the law, and a patient’s personal rights. Compared to most other professions, the Hippocratic oath holds physicians to a higher standard of conduct. Practitioners take this oath after graduating from medical school, and it is one of the oldest binding agreements in history. They agree to serve the well-being and health of their patients in accordance with the AMA’s standards. If a physician is found guilty of sexual abuse, they are in violation of their Hippocratic oath. While it isn’t legally binding, the AMA’s rules against patient abuse include its moral tenants.
The following are some examples of physician sexual abuse:
- Non-consensual or inappropriate physical touching
- Uncomfortable questions or sexual remarks
- Performing exams that do not pertain to the patient’s appointment or the physician’s specialty
- Taking advantage of unconscious or medicated patients
Responsible Parties in a Medical Sexual Assault
Many possible parties could be held responsible for sexual assault in addition to doctors, such as:
- Hospital staff (part-time care, anesthesiologists, etc.)
- Rehab specialists
Guilty parties could be held responsible as either the negligent party who failed to report the abuse or as the assailant. Parties can be accused of medical malpractice if the claim isn’t handled correctly or they attempt to cover up the incident. The parties responsible for the assault will try to blame the patient and deny that it happened. Survivors should never feel like they are responsible for the actions of the accused.
Recovering from the Abuse
It can be a challenging process to recover from a sexual assault. Survivors often have traumatic flashbacks of the abuse that can be difficult to shake. Some victims end up grappling with the abuse for many years. The good news is that survivors can find helpful resources and support for empowerment and peace after the experience.
The first step in the recovery process is to open up to a family member or a trustworthy friend. It may not be easy to discuss the event, but survivors can find the empathy and support they need to come to terms with what happened. For survivors who want to reach out anonymously, there are crisis hotlines available.
An experienced therapist can also help them deal with their trauma. Therapy offers a safe environment for survivors to restructure their lives and recover in a meaningful way. Online or group therapy is another option for survivors who may not feel comfortable discussing the abuse one-on-one.
Survivors of doctor sexual abuse can claim general damages to compensate for the emotional harm they have suffered. These can include:
- Lost enjoyment in interests or hobbies
- Loss of consortium (lack of intimacy with your partner or spouse)
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Survivors can also claim special damages. These are financial costs that were sustained due to their experience, such as:
- Prescription medications
- Medical bills
Sexual assault survivors put off reporting the abuse because of the social stigma that is often associated with sexual abuse. Some may choose not to acknowledge the abuse for the following reasons:
- The misconception that assault happens to only one type of individual: Sexual assault affects people of all ethnicities, genders, and ages.
- The victim didn’t say “no”: Sexual assault survivors generally don’t retaliate out of fear of violence or shock. Many victims believe that not saying no means consent.
- The attacker was nonviolent: For a situation to be considered sexual assault, the attacker does not have to be physically abusive (using physical restraint or hitting their victims).
- Lack of public awareness: People aren’t always aware that sexual abuse could happen in a medical office or an exam room.
These fallacies may convince survivors that their case shouldn’t be reported, which is simply false. If a medical provider’s actions caused a patient emotional or physical harm, the patient can file a claim and report the incident to the police. There is a statute of limitations for filing sexual assault cases, which is why you need to file your claim right away to avoid missing the deadline. If the deadline is missed, your claim could be denied, which would forfeit your chance to recover any damages you may be entitled to.
Contact an Attorney Today
Doctor sexual assault can be a traumatic experience for anyone, but there is hope. If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a medical provider, The Eichholz Law Firm can help you get justice so you can move forward with life.
Our dedicated legal team will help you seek the compensation you need to recover. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.