I want to tell you a little something about sexual assault by a medical professional. It’s not allowed. . . ever. I don’t care if you throw your arms around the doctor’s neck and kiss him or you tell him or her that you love them. Doctors are supposed to know better. They have a doctor-patient relationship, and it is not professional conduct that is condoned by courts or by medical boards.
Why – because doctors have an unfair advantage – because they have access to drugs, which they might use on you; because you may see them for depression and anxiety and they prey on your weakness like we’ve read so often about priests and parishioners; because some doctors treat children, who are vulnerable; and of then, of course, there are gynecologists who have access to a patient at her most vulnerable. In almost all cases of these relationships, the patient is left with psychological scars.
The Conduct is Shunned by Medical Professionals and Boards
Taking it a step further, the American Medical Association says this about doctor/patient relations: “Romantic or sexual interactions between physicians and patients that occur concurrently with the patient-physician relationship are unethical. Such interactions detract from the goals of the patient-physician relationship and may exploit the vulnerability of the patient, compromise the physician’s ability to make objective judgments about the patient’s health care, and ultimately be detrimental to the patient’s well-being. A physician must terminate the patient-physician relationship before initiating a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship with a patient.”
Even a sexual or romantic relationship between a physician and a former patient is frowned upon, and considered unethical, as it may be unduly influenced by the previous physician-patient relationship.
And there is good news with respect to collecting money for your injuries. In a recent New York Court of Appeals case, it was determined that in certain circumstances, if the assault occurred as part of treatment, then a doctor’s medical malpractice policy would cover the abuse.
Better still, when a doctor assaults a patient, you usually sue the practice, which is bigger than the individual. Our legal theories are wrongful hiring and retention of the doctor and failure to properly supervise them. So, in that instance, the medical practice’s general liability policy will cover the acts.
A Recent Case In Our Office
We just resolved a claim against a doctor’s office in a very quick period of time (a few months) and for a very solid financial settlement. I am not allowed to provide details about the specific case, because the big risk to a medical office is that the press discovers the assault, writes about it, and suddenly nobody wants to treat at their offices and all of the doctor’s partners suffer financially. So the office or the insurance carrier asks our client to sign a “confidentiality agreement” to not discuss the case following settlement. That doesn’t mean the doctor can’t be criminally prosecuted, it simply means our client, or us, can’t give interviews on TV and to newspapers with specifics about the case.
In the case at hand, the process went like this: we sent a claim letter – the carrier contacted us and said they’d investigate – we helped the investigation by providing texts between the doctor and patient about the doctor’s desires – they took a statement from my client to address credibility – then the doctor must have admitted his crime to the investigator and/or the carrier found out my client wasn’t the only victim – then an adjuster called me to say the doctor has been fired, reported to the medical boards and made me an offer, which very quickly led to a large settlement. It was a good day for the underdog.
When you think about it, the process makes sense. Although doctors like to protect their own, they also don’t like to have their income affected. So, when there is a bad apple at the practice’s core, the other partners typically expect that the assailant will take one for the team and atone for his or her sins, while the partners, in turn, cooperate with the authorities and throw the bad apple under the bus. That is how self-preservation works.
In summary, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by your doctor, call our office immediately for a consult. It’s confidential, and perhaps we can help you get justice, and in the process stop a predator.