We trust medical providers with our health, overall well-being, and sometimes our lives. Experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of a doctor or other care provider is not only devastating, it is a betrayal of trust that is virtually insurmountable. If you or someone you know has experienced hospital sexual abuse in Portland, it is important to understand your rights and what you can do to seek justice and healing through the legal system. An experienced Portland hospital sexual abuse attorney can walk you through the process and help you determine the best path forward.
What Is Hospital Sexual Abuse?
Hospital sexual abuse occurs when a medical facility provider or other employee exploits their position to assault or abuse a patient. In most cases, any non-consensual sexual contact can be considered sexual abuse. It is common for a doctor to need to touch your body to diagnose or examine an injury or condition, but you should never feel uncomfortable with that contact, and it should never be sexual in nature. Here are some examples of inappropriate touching that may be considered sexual abuse:
- Insisting that a patient reveal parts of the body that are not related to the medical examination they should be conducting;
- Touching a patient inappropriately, especially when that contact is not necessary for providing medical care;
- Failing to use gloves while examining sexual organs;
- Refusing to have another medical professional or staff member in the room when requested by a patient; and
- Failing to explain to a patient what the medical professional is doing and why they are doing it, particularly during a vaginal, rectal, pelvic, teste, or breast exam.
A patient’s vulnerability may be heightened due to interactions with medication or sedation. Age may also be a factor for the elderly, adolescents, and children, who may not be fully aware of what is happening and what is appropriate. Even if you do not have all the facts and clear-cut evidence, it is important to come forward. A thorough hospital sexual abuse lawyer in Portland will be able to conduct an independent investigation into the facts of your case and help you put the pieces together.
Who Is Liable for Hospital Sexual Abuse?
Any hospital employee can commit sexual abuse, including doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, and support staff. The positions often naturally lend themselves to close proximity to patients, which provides more opportunities and makes it easier for perpetrators to gain access. The abuser should absolutely be held responsible for their actions, but depending on the circumstances of the abuse, the medical facility may also be liable.
How Can a Hospital Be Held Liable?
Hospitals have a duty to protect patients under their care. In many cases, hospitals can be held vicariously liable for the acts of their employees if conducted during the normal course of business. That being said, sexual abuse is not part of the normal course of business and certainly falls outside the scope of employment, whether or not the provider was on the clock at the time. Here are some other ways that hospitals may be found liable for sexual abuse.
Administrative negligence in hiring and supervising employees is the hospital’s fault and can be a valid claim. Failure to conduct pre-employment background checks or validate application details could result in hiring someone who was not fit to be around patients.
The hospital is responsible for training and monitoring employees, as well as establishing protocols that minimize the chance that staff will have intimate access to patients without additional support.
Failure to Protect
In some cases, the hospital may have been informed of concerns over the employee’s behavior prior to the abuse or may have known of previous incidents but failed to remove the employee. The act of sweeping the employee’s behavior under the rug is unacceptable and could result in harm to countless patients.
What Is Needed to Prove a Hospital Sexual Abuse Case?
Gathering evidence can be complicated, but you should not have to do it alone. Your hospital sexual abuse attorney in Portland can help you determine what evidence is needed and the best way to acquire it. Here are some of the pieces of evidence that may be relevant to your case:
- Incident reports involving the employee regarding your case or others;
- Proof of any physical injuries, including medical records;
- The hospital employee’s employment information and personnel file from the human resources department;
- Human resources policies related to hiring, including background checks, credential verification, references, interviews, and any other materials;
- Any patient allegations against hospital employees within the last several years, including police reports and the results of those investigations;
- Documentation of hospital policies, procedures, and responses to allegations of employee misconduct; and
- Evidence to support any mental, physical, emotional, and financial hardships you have endured because of the abuse.
Some of these documents may need to be subpoenaed by the court, which is something your Portland hospital sexual abuse attorney can set in motion.
Contact a Portland Hospital Sexual Abuse Attorney
Unlike many other personal injury attorneys, the team at D’Amore Law Group has actual experience with hospital sexual abuse representation. We understand the serious and sensitive nature of your case and understand how to help you navigate the legal process. We cannot undo your traumatic experience, but we can fight zealously for the justice and compensation you deserve.
Perpetrators of hospital sexual abuse in Portland rarely stop at one victim and, in many cases, may have existing complaints filed against them. Bringing the abuser into the light may help you find some sense of peace, but it may also prevent someone else from suffering the same experience. Standing up against any sort of sexual abuse can be incredibly intimidating. Know that we believe you and we want to see justice served.