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How Common Is Sexual Abuse in Hospitals?

November 15, 2021  ·  By HM&M


In many sexual abuse cases, the abuser was a position of power, whether a part of the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, the Boy Scouts of America, or a medical association or hospital.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse occurs anywhere a perpetrator sees an opportunity to take advantage of their victim and that victim’s circumstances.

It’s unconscionable that so many sexual abuse perpetrators get away with their crimes, especially those in positions of power or influence. Often, their abuser was someone they trusted with their safety, and—in a growing number of situations—their health.

Is Sexual Abuse in Hospitals Common?

Sexual abuse in hospitals is, unfortunately, not as uncommon as many would like to believe. In fact, 3,100 doctors in the United States received some form of public discipline for sexual abuse or misconduct between 1999 and 2015, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Of the thousands of doctors who faced public discipline during this period, more than 2,400 were “sanctioned for violations that clearly involved patients.” In many cases, medical professionals were allowed to continue their practice.

In 2017, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed medical regulators’ public disciplinary actions in every state, revealing that, between 2016 and 2017, 450 doctors faced medical board or court hearings for alleged sexual misconduct. Again, journalists found that many doctors who committed sexual abuse were afforded protection from disciplinary action and continued to see patients.

But beyond the absurdity that a sexual abuser can continue taking patients, an incredibly unfortunate circumstance is that the number of abuse cases likely does not include every instance of sexual abuse. Many sexual abuse survivors are either intimidated, embarrassed, or otherwise unwilling to speak out against their abuser. Some remain silent out of fear of retaliation, embarrassment, or because they believe that they do not have the resources to win a case once they file a claim against their abuser.

However, sexual abuse survivors have options when seeking justice against their abusers.

Learn More About Sexual Abuse at Medical Practices

How Do You Know If You Suffered Sexual Abuse While in the Hospital?

Many sexual abuse survivors did not immediately know that they were being sexually abused. In many cases, the doctor or medical professional who committed the abuse had placed the victim under anesthesia or other sedatives.

In other cases, patients who were fully awake were not aware that what the doctor was doing to their body was abuse. Many abusive doctors lie and tell the patient that their unwarranted actions are part of standard procedure.

What are the Signs of Sexual Abuse in a Hospital or Medical Setting?

RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) lists several warning signs of sexual abuse during a medical procedure. While this list is not exhaustive, it is an excellent overview of some of the most common signs of sexual abuse in hospitals and medical facilities.

  • The care provider refuses to explain what’s happening during the procedure or tells you to keep silent.
  • They fail or refuse to use gloves during the exam of your private areas.
  • They refuse to have another medical professional or another person in the room during the procedure.
  • They insist you expose parts of your body that are not essential to the examination.
  • They pry into your private life about your sexual activity or health that you feel is inappropriate.

What Should Sexual Abuse Survivors Do?

Because of the emotional pain and confusion resulting from sexual abuse in hospitals, it’s understandable that many victims remain silent. However, there are many survivors who have chosen to stand up against their abusers and seek the justice, compensation, and healing they deserve.

While some hospitals may attempt to cover up doctors’ sexual abuse allegations, experienced sexual abuse attorneys know how to successfully navigate this delicate issue. The Hurley McKenna & Mertz team is here to provide compassionate and experienced representation. We understand that confronting the pain of sexual abuse may be incredibly difficult, and we will treat you and your case with the sensitivity and dedication you deserve.

Reach out to us today for your free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you take a significant step towards healing.

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