Sexual Abuse of Patients in Healthcare Settings

Blurred photo of an unidentifiable hospital hallway area with multiple individuals in blue scrubs walking.

When you enter a healthcare facility, you expect to receive quality care. Unfortunately, in some cases, patients and their families are exposed to sexual abuse from medical clinicians or staff members. We will take a closer look at the issue of sexual abuse of patients in healthcare settings – how it occurs, what groups of patients are most at risk, and who might be liable if wrongdoing has occurred.

Before getting started, you should know the following definitions:

Sexual Abuse is any form of unwanted and/or non-consensual sexual contact by one person against or forced upon another. This includes all sexual activity with individuals under the legal age of consent and those who cannot consent due to confusion, impairment, intoxication, or other factors.

Healthcare Settings are any place in which healthcare services are provided or offered. This includes hospitals, medical centers, clinics, nursing homes, hospice centers, addiction or mental health treatment centers, birth centers, and more.

Utilizing data from Sexual Violation of Patients by Physicians: A Mixed-Methods, Exploratory Analysis of 101 Cases (the study), we have compiled the following information:

Most Common Types of Sexual Abuse in Healthcare Settings

According to the study, the following types of sexual abuse were most common:

  • Inappropriate touching - 33%
  • Sodomy - 31%
  • Rape - 16%
  • Child molestation - 14%

Abusers tend to sexually abuse patients repeatedly and for periods of a year or longer. They are also more prone to commit other ethical violations, such as:

  • Financial fraud
  • Improper prescribing
  • Criminal behavior

Which Patients Are Most Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse?

According to the study, victims tended to have the following characteristics:

  • Age: 60.4% of victims were adults.
  • Gender: 89.1% of victims were women.
  • Race: 99% of victims did not fall into a racial minority.
  • Examination Type: 85.1% of victims were always examined alone.

Which Professionals Are Most Likely to Commit Sexual Abuse?

According to the study, abusers tended to have the following characteristics:

  • Age: 92% of abusers were over 39 years old.
  • Gender: 100% of abusers were male.
  • Specialty: 39.6% of abusers specialized in Pediatrics/Family Medicine.
  • Board Certification: 72% of abusers were not board certified.
  • Workplace: 94.1% of abusers work in a nonacademic, private practice.
  • Mental Health: 93% of abusers were not diagnosed with mental illness.
  • Repeat Offenders: 57.4% of abusers have more than five victims.

How Curtis & Co. Can Help

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a healthcare professional, it is important to understand that you are not alone. You may be entitled to compensation for your damages, and an experienced attorney can help you protect your rights. The team at Curtis & Co. will fight for justice on your behalf. Contact us today by calling (505) 871-3740 or filling out our secure online form for a free consultation.