Does Sexual Misconduct Fall Under Medical Malpractice?
We trust doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide competent and respectful medical care and this is what we get the vast majority of the time. In rare cases, a healthcare professional breaks the trust given to them by acting in a negligent or inappropriate way. When a doctor uses their position of power or authority to make unwelcome and/or inappropriate sexual contact or sexual comments, sexual misconduct may have occurred. Sexual misconduct is a type of medical malpractice.
Patients who are victimized by sexual misconduct have the right to hold the medical professional accountable for their actions. A medical malpractice claim may be appropriate. Speak to a medical malpractice attorney who can discuss your legal rights and options.
What is sexual misconduct under medical malpractice?
In the context of medical malpractice, sexual misconduct is any non-consensual sexual relationship that occurs between a doctor and a patient under their care.
There are many different actions that could be considered sexual misconduct, including:
- Sexual comments
- Asking questions about a patient’s sexual history that are not related to the medical exam
- Unnecessary physical exams
- Inappropriate touching such as an extended touch or touching an area of the body not related to the medical exam
- Criticism of the patient’s sexual orientation or sexual history
How are doctors held accountable for sexual misconduct?
Sexual misconduct claims against physicians or other healthcare providers falls under medical malpractice laws. In order for a medical malpractice claim to have merit, the doctor must have failed to meet the standard of care that a reasonably prudent doctor would have used in the same or similar circumstances. In the case of sexual misconduct, the physician intentionally violated the standard of care and can therefore be held liable for their actions.
Who can be sued in a sexual misconduct case?
A medical malpractice attorney will identify all parties who may be liable for damages. The claim may be brought against the physician who committed the misconduct but, in many cases, a complaint can be brought against the medical practice or hospital where the physician worked. This is especially true in situations where the physician had prior complaints against them. If it can be proved that the hospital or medical practice knew that the doctor they employed had a history of sexual misconduct complaints against them and did nothing to protect their patients, then they could be liable for damages.
What kinds of damage can be recovered in a sexual misconduct case?
As with all medical malpractice claims, the settlement amount can vary greatly from a few thousand dollars to millions. Each case is unique and only a medical malpractice attorney can tell you what your case may be worth. Economic and non-economic damages are awarded in medical malpractice cases. Economic damages are damages that can easily be added up such as lost wages and medical bills caused by the negligent behavior. Non-economic damages are intangible losses like pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages will be calculated based on a “per diem” rate or other method.
Seek the help of a medical malpractice attorney
If you were injured because of medical negligence or lost a loved one due to a preventable medical error, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced medical malpractice attorney fight for justice on your behalf. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a medical negligence lawyer. Call the most experienced practicing medical malpractice attorneys Bellingham has at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing people injured by medical negligence in Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!