Suing a Doctor for Sexual Assault

Posted by Randy Andrus | Jul 26, 2022

Most patients innately trust medical professionals to keep them safe and healthy. We tell our doctors confidential things that we would never tell anyone else. When a doctor is guilty of medical malpractice, sexual assault, or another negligent or intentional act, the trust we have in him or her is shattered. This betrayal is absolutely devastating for victims. Unfortunately, sexual assault in the doctor's office is an increasingly common occurrence. Doctors abusing their positions of trust and power is unacceptable, and victims may have legal recourse for such actions. If you or a loved one has been abused at the doctor's office, our sexual assault lawyer in Salt Lake City is standing by ready to help you get the justice you deserve. Call Randy Andrus to schedule a confidential consultation at 801-535-4645 or fill out this secure online form, and we will reach out to you. 

What Is Sexual Abuse at a Doctor's Office?

Sexual assault and abuse are severe crimes and civil wrongdoings. Sexual assault refers to the non-consensual initiation of sexual contact. Utah recognizes several degrees of sexual assault and battery:

  • Unpermitted sexual intimidation or physical touching
  • Non-consensual sexual activity
  • Rape 
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
  • Forcible Sexual Abuse
  • Forcible Sodomy

Doctors and medical professionals can be guilty of these crimes and wrongdoings when they initiate sexual contact or coercion with a non-consenting patient, exploiting the patient-provider relationship in a sexual way. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) supports America's state medical boards in licensing, disciplining, and regulating physicians and other healthcare professionals. The organization defines sexual assault as any type of sexual activity or contact without consent (such as through physical force, threats of force, coercion, manipulation, imposition of power, etc., or circumstances where a person lacks the capacity to provide consent due to age or other circumstances).

The FSMB acknowledges two categories of sexual misconduct in the examination room: sexual impropriety and sexual violation. Misconduct within these categories can be the basis of disciplinary actions and medical malpractice lawsuits

Sexual Impropriety As Recognized By the FSMB

The first category recognized by the FSMB when it comes to categorizing a doctor's sexually inappropriate conduct towards a patient includes sexually suggestive behavior or statements that are sexually demeaning or fail to regard patient privacy. Some examples of sexual impropriety by a medical professional include:

  1. Failure to provide covering or patient gowns
  2. Watching a patient get undressed
  3. Disrespecting patient privacy as they undress or get dressed
  4. Inappropriate touching of genital areas, including touching without wearing gloves
  5. Criticism of a patient's sexual orientation
  6. Requesting details of a patient's sexual history or preferences with no clinical reasoning
  7. Conducting intimate examinations without clinical reasoning
  8. Comments about the patient or to the patient about sexual topics, a patient's body, or underwear
  9. Requesting a date or intimate relationship during the examination
  10. Commenting on the doctor's own sexual preferences or issues
  11. Unjustified intimate examinations

Sexual Violation As Recognized By the FSMB

Sexual violation refers to physical contact that is sexual in nature. Some examples of sexual violation outlined by the FSMB include:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Kissing
  • Clinically unjustified touching of the patient's breasts, genitals, or another body part 
  • Sexualized touching after a patient has withdrawn consent

These gross violations of the doctor-patient relationship may be punishable by law and may be grounds for civil liability. If you or a loved one has been abused by a medical professional, call our medical malpractice lawyer in Utah as soon as possible at 801-535-4645. We will work tirelessly to help you recover and heal by holding these wrongdoers accountable.  

Additionally, if you or a loved one has suffered from abuse, there are resources you can use, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE(4673).

How to Report a Doctor for Sexual Abuse

Reporting sexual assault and misconduct in medical settings is extremely vital to the safety of the public. Similarly, reporting abusers can be empowering for survivors of assault. Survivors can report misconduct to their local police department. They can also report a doctor's misconduct to the hospital or clinic where the doctor works. Many clinics and hospitals have formal processes to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct. Patients can also report a doctor's misconduct to the state medical board. In Utah, complaints are filed by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL). Our sexual assault lawyer can help you navigate this process. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) can also help survivors identify whom to report the abuse. 

Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources you can use to help, including the legal team at Andrus Law Firm. We'll stand by you throughout the entire process. 

What to Do After Sexual Assault

In the aftermath of sexual assault, survivors may have a difficult time knowing what to do next. With so many questions, overwhelm, hurt, and confusion can make it even more difficult to navigate the situation. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a doctor, medical provider, or another abuser, here are some steps you can take to hold the perpetrator accountable:

  1. Preserve physical evidence - Though it will likely be challenging, do not shower or change clothes after an assault. This helps police obtain any possible evidence left behind by the attacker.
  2. Get Medical Attention - Seeking medical treatment following an assault may help you avoid serious injuries and complications. Additionally, the medical staff will administer any needed emergency contraception and medications to prevent STIs. If you believe you were drugged, make sure to tell your attending doctor or nurse. At the emergency room, they will also use a rape kit, which will collect any forensic evidence of the crime, like the attacker's DNA and signs of physical trauma.
  3. File a police report - A majority of assault survivors do not press charges against their attackers. Unfortunately, this means many criminals remain unpunished and unaccountable for their actions. Not holding abusers accountable may put other patients in jeopardy. Additionally, seeking justice can be empowering for survivors. Filing a report may help you get justice sooner. 
  4. Obtain emotional support - Remember that sexual assault wasn't your fault, and you don't have to go through this alone. There are multiple support groups and therapists available who can help you get through emotional trauma. Additionally, The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-HOPE(4673).
  5. Hire a trusted and experienced sexual assault lawyer - A supportive, experienced lawyer is waiting to help you get justice at Andrus Law Firm.

Read more about what to do after sexual assault on our blog at this link

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Our Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Reaching out for help may be difficult, but know that you are not in this alone, and you are not at fault. Our sexual abuse lawyer and experienced legal team will work tirelessly to ensure the abuser is brought to justice. We stand by our clients throughout the entire process, ensuring that they are supported and their rights are protected. To schedule a confidential consultation with us, call 801-535-4645 or fill out this secure online consultation form, and we will reach out to you. 

Every case is unique. The content on our blog and website is for general information purposes only. To get specialized legal advice regarding your specific legal situation, we highly recommend that you contact our injury lawyer. 

About the Author

Randy Andrus

BIO   Education University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (LL.M. 1987) Business and Taxation – Transnational Practice Courses and International Bar Association Convention, Salzburg, Austria Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1984) Dean's List American Jurisprudence...

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