Serving Clients Throughout New York City for Close to 30 Years
When a patient visits a hospital for medical treatment, is admitted to a nursing home, or requires psychiatric treatment, it is expected that they will be treated with care and respect. Patients trust their physician to have their best interests at heart, but unfortunately this does not always happen. They not only have to deal with the possibility of a doctor error or nurse error, but they could also have to deal with sexual misconduct on the part of the medical professional.
Sexual misconduct is a legal term used to describe any type of inappropriate sexual behavior, in this case towards a patient. More specifically, it is taking advantage of the victim for the doctor’s own sexual gratification. In other types of malpractice, it is a case of negligence. In sexual misconduct cases, it becomes a criminal matter as well as a civil one. In order to determine whether or not sexual misconduct took place, it is important to be familiar with the different possible types of misconduct:
- Inappropriate sexual comments, either in general or regarding the patient
- Unnecessary questions regarding the patient’s sex life or sexual history
- Inappropriate, unnecessary touching
- Improper examinations
- Sexual harassment
- Indecent exposure
Medical professionals who abuse the doctor-patient relationship could end up not only having their medical license revoked, but they could also be put behind bars. Due to the ethics involved, it is against the medical code to have a sexual relationship with a patient as it jeopardizes their medical care. The American Medical Association has also stated that is unethical for a doctor to have a relationship with a past patient if they use or exploit the knowledge they have of the patient from a previous relationship. Doctors also have the responsibility to report instances of sexual misconduct in their colleagues. It is difficult to come up with an accurate figure regarding patient-physician sexual misconduct because it is believed that these incidences are underreported.
When does sexual misconduct occur?
When a study was done regarding the circumstances surrounding each case of sexual misconduct, it was discovered that there were three main types of situations. The first occurred when the patient and doctor formed a personal relationship which was not necessary to their treatment. The second type of situation involves the doctor using their position in order to take advantage of the patient, such as unnecessary touching or examination. The third and perhaps most serious type of sexual misconduct includes sexual contact or intercourse with a patient who was unable to give consent or who was unconscious at the time.
Some of these doctors regret their actions as they arose from an attraction to the patient or from the complex emotions which can result from the relationship. Other physicians, however, purposefully use their position as a doctor to use the patient for their own sexual gratification. According to the New York Penal Law, sexual misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the doctor is found guilty of rape, the charges will increase to a felony. In more serious cases of patient-physician sexual misconduct, it is important to contact the police regarding this criminal behavior.
Receive Help from a Long Island Sexual Misconduct Lawyer
If you believe that you or a loved one was mistreated in this way, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and hold the guilty party responsible for what they have done. This is an important action to take because it could protect future patients from being victimized in the same way. It is the decision of the patient whether or not to report the abuse to the police. Victims should then contact the hospital or clinic as many of these facilities have complaint forms. It is also imperative that you file a complaint with the state board. The New York State Department of Health has an office dedicated to investigating these accusations, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. You may also have grounds for a lawsuit regarding the pain and suffering you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. Our team at the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, PC is dedicated to helping patients who have found themselves in these difficult situations. Call today!