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Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

March 2, 2023

Over $400 Million worth of case results

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Doctors and other healthcare professionals are some of the most trusted people in society. We rely on them to address our healthcare needs without judgment or discrimination. Unfortunately, positions of trust often lead to opportunities for sexual abuse and assault.

Sexual abuse is one of the worst violations of medical ethics a doctor can commit. Furthermore, it is an extreme abuse of a patient’s trust and is considered a crime in all states.

If you or a loved one suffered sexual assault or abuse from a doctor, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC will ensure you obtain justice.

Contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options related to pursuing a civil claim for a doctor sexual assault lawsuit. We understand that talking about your experience may be difficult.

Rest assured that all sensitive or confidential information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

doctor sexual assault lawsuit

Why Does Sexual Abuse Happen in the Medical Field?

Historically, most sexual assaults and misconduct occur within asymmetrical power dynamics, where the perpetrator has a dominant or more powerful position over the victim. “Power” may be related to the perpetrator’s age, sex, social status, and job position, among other factors.

In a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor holds a position of authority because they are responsible for the patient’s medical care. Hence, the patient is, by default, in a less powerful position.

The patient trusts the doctor to help and address their problem correctly, and often, the patient must divulge information they may be unwilling to share with others.

Unfortunately, some doctors abuse this trust by engaging in sexual misconduct or committing sexual assault.

Where Does Physician Sexual Abuse Most Frequently Occur?

Sexual misconduct can occur in any medical setting, including hospitals, private practices, and outpatient clinics. However, sexual harassment and abuse happen most frequently when patients are alone with doctors. The types of doctors who are accused most often include:

  • Obstetricians and Gynecologists: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), sexual or romantic interactions between an obstetrician-gynecologist and a patient are always unethical. Sadly, there are many cases of obstetrician-gynecologists (often male) sexually abusing patients across the US, with perpetrators going beyond standard procedure for sexual gratification.
  • Psychiatrists: One-third of all reported cases of doctor sexual abuse involve psychiatrists, partly because a psychiatrist session often leaves a patient and a doctor alone in a private room. Furthermore, patients with mental health problems are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse, creating opportunities for psychiatrists to abuse their authority.
  • Doctors Prescribing Addictive Medication: Physicians that prescribe potentially addictive medication, such as opioids, may abuse their position by withholding medication to vulnerable patients and forcing them to comply with sexual demands.

Common perpetrators of sexual harassment in medical care settings are usually males, but female doctors can also be abusive.

Who is Most Vulnerable to Doctor Sexual Abuse?

The following are the most frequent victims of sexual abuse by a doctor:

  • Female patients
  • Children and adolescents
  • Psychiatric patients
  • Physically or mentally disabled patients
  • Bedridden patients

What Are Your Rights in a Medical Setting?

Knowing your rights within a medical setting can help you prevent sexual abuse. When you see a doctor for a check-up, procedure, or treatment, you have the right to:

  • End the exam at any time if you feel uncomfortable
  • Have a chaperone in the room unless medically inappropriate
  • Undergo examinations or procedures in a private room or with the curtains drawn if in a public ward
  • Undress the body parts being examined and keep the rest of your body covered
  • Ask for a medical professional of the same sex or gender
  • Keep religious garments on unless they prevent you from receiving care
  • Have your questions answered truthfully and within a reasonable amount of time

When you are undergoing a rectal, vaginal, pelvic test, or breast examination, the examiner should:

  • Explain each part of the examination before and while it occurs
  • Use gloves
  • Answer your questions
  • Only ask you to undress the body part being examined
  • Allow a chaperone in the room when appropriate
  • Respect your requests for an examiner of the same sex or gender

During physical exams, deviations from standard procedures for sexual gratification count as sexual harassment or assault. File a report to the police and contact a law firm immediately if you have been a victim.

What is Considered Sexual Abuse by a Doctor?

Doctor sexual abuse can occur in many ways, including:

  • Inappropriate touching during or outside a physical examination
  • Forcing or coercing a patient to undress body parts that are not part of the procedure
  • Making sexual comments or unwelcome sexual advances
  • Asking about a patient’s sexual history, although irrelevant to the medical reason for examination
  • Taking photos of the patient without the patient’s consent or for personal use
  • Not providing a dressing gown
  • Retraining a patient without a medical reason or for sexual gratification
  • Overmedicating a patient to commit sexual misconduct
  • Asking for sexual favors in exchange for medication, treatment, or money
  • Committing or attempting vaginal, anal, oral, or statutory rape

In some cases, pursuing a romantic relationship with a patient is also considered sexual abuse. Similarly, engaging in a sexual act with a patient unable to give valid consent (e.g., a minor or person with an intellectual disability) is sexual assault.

If doctors and patients want to form consensual romantic relationships, doctors must terminate the doctor-patient relationship first.

Factors That Allow Doctor Sexual Assault and Abuse to Persist

Many medical professionals have lost their jobs and faced criminal charges for sexually assaulting patients. However, the problem persists across the US due to several factors, including:

  • Underreporting: Many sexual abuse cases go unreported, and it is not limited to abuse occurring within the medical practice. Victims may feel too ashamed or guilty to report sexual mistreatment or are fearful that no one will believe them due to the power imbalance between patients and doctors.
  • Secrecy Among Medical Professionals: Doctors and other hospital employees are often unwilling to report abusive colleagues due to the lack of enforceable legal mandates for doctors who commit sexual abuse. Alternatively, doctors protect each other by refusing to report sexual misconduct.
  • Lack of Action: Medical boards don’t always act upon reports of doctor sexual abuse. Usually, boards close cases due to insufficient evidence or informal resolutions. Only a small percentage of reports reach the hearing stage, and often, organizations don’t take action unless incidents gain significant public attention.
  • Organizational Issues: Sexual harassment and abuse can arise from several issues within medical facilities, such as negligent hiring practices, poor retention, lack of sexual assault or abuse education, and inadequate supervision.

What Are the Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse?

Many victims display physical and emotional changes after being sexually assaulted or abused. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim, look out for the following signs:

  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Injuries around private areas
  • Unexplained pregnancy
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Restraint or grip marks
  • Indicators of overmedication after a doctor’s appointment
  • Sudden social withdrawal
  • Depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Frequent crying
  • Changes in hygiene (e.g., excessive showering) or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased smoking or drinking or sudden drug use
  • Self-esteem or self-worth issues
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide

Additionally, children may exhibit the following warning signs after experiencing sexual assault or abuse:

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Unusual fear of doctors or hospitals
  • Regressive behaviors, e.g., thumb-sucking
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Self-isolation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Self-harming behaviors

How to Report Sexual Assault or Abuse

If you or a loved one were sexually assaulted or abused by a doctor, call the police immediately. You can also file a formal complaint to:

  • The state medical board
  • The Attorney General’s office
  • Medicare

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-4673. Reporting doctor sexual assault can help you seek justice and protect other patients from the same fate. These reports may also allow our law firm to build a stronger personal injury case.

How to Sue a Doctor for Sexual Harassment or Abuse

Legal action against an abusive doctor can help you recover financial compensation for your losses and prevent the doctor from abusing others. You can file a lawsuit with the help of a sexual abuse lawyer. If your child is the victim, you can file a case as their legal guardian on their behalf.

A victim’s family members can also sue a doctor for sexual abuse if the victim has died.

As the plaintiff in a civil claim, you bear the burden of proof. You and your lawyer must prove that what you are claiming is more likely true than not. Primarily, you must prove that the sexual relationship between you and the doctor was non-consensual.

What Evidence Do You Need?

Sex crimes are often challenging to prove since there is not always physical evidence unless the victim sustains visible injuries and obtains a police report. Thus, a sexual abuse lawsuit can become a “he said, she said” situation.

Nevertheless, our sexual assault attorneys have extensive experience in collecting evidence for such claims, including:

  • Witness accounts from other medical professionals
  • Expert testimony relaying the standards of care
  • Medical records
  • Psychological evaluations
  • Surveillance footage from the hospital or doctor’s office, if available

You may also have to present your clothes for DNA testing if the incident involved bodily fluids. Undergoing a forensic examination after an assault can also help provide solid evidence against the defendant.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

If you file a claim against a doctor for sexual harassment or abuse, you may be able to recover financial compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical Bills: Out-of-pocket expenses for hospitalization, therapy, counseling, medication, emergency termination, and future medical bills.
  • Lost Wages or Income: Salaries, wages, benefits, and revenue you have lost while recovering from the incident or caring for a loved one.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Financial compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost from the sexual assault or abuse.
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical and emotional injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, pain and suffering, etc.
  • Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, and other related damages if a sex crime victim commits suicide.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional compensation used to punish abusive doctors or negligent medical facilities.

While no amount of money can erase the trauma from the sexual violation or heal emotional distress, a sexual abuse survivor can use financial compensation for additional treatment and recovery.

Who is Liable for Your Losses?

If you were sexually assaulted by a medical professional, their employer is duly responsible for your damages. Hence, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital. You may also be able to sue a medical professional that was aware of the sex crime but chose not to report it.

Doctors and medical facilities have insurance policies to limit their liability in civil cases, including sexual harassment, assault, and abuse claims. Thus, your lawyer will help you file a lawsuit against the doctor’s or hospital’s insurance company.

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Civil Lawsuit?

Sexual abuse laws vary by state. In most states, victims must file suits within two to three years. A handful of states have no statute of limitations for sex abuse cases.

Will The Doctor Face Criminal Charges for Sexual Misconduct?

A medical professional that sexually abuses his or her patients may face a criminal case. However, criminal cases are separate from civil lawsuits, meaning the decision to press charges may not be yours to make.

Furthermore, a criminal case can co-occur as a civil lawsuit. You can file a lawsuit while prosecution is underway, and a conviction can help prove your case.

Should You Hire a Sexual Abuse Lawyer?

A lawyer is not required for medical malpractice or doctor sexual abuse cases. However, legal assistance can significantly increase your chances of recovering fair compensation and holding at-fault parties responsible.

If a doctor sexually abused you or a loved one–someone you trusted–the aftermath can be highly upsetting. Having a lawyer will ease some of your emotional burdens and help you focus on recovery.

Once you hire legal help, your attorney will be responsible for the following:

  • Collecting evidence to support your sexual assault claim
  • Interviewing witnesses and medical experts
  • Filing a claim on your behalf
  • Negotiating a fair settlement value

Additionally, the compassionate attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you report the incident to appropriate organizations, including your state’s medical board.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Doctor Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Sexual battery, assault, and harassment are extreme violations of medical ethics, patient trust, and the law. Doctors cannot pursue sexual relationships with patients or conduct unwanted sexual activity on patients.

Sadly, doctor sexual abuse cases continue to rise. Hence, the experienced attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC work tirelessly to defend victims’ legal rights and hold negligent doctors and hospitals accountable.

If you or a loved one were sexually abused in a doctor’s office, hospital, or any other medical setting, you deserve justice. Our law firm helps victims in pursuing legal action for sexual assault and recover fair settlements for survivors and their family members.

Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our sexual assault attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this agreement, you don’t have to pay legal fees unless we win your case.

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