Combating Sexual Abuse by a Medical Practitioner

Sexual abuse, unfortunately, is a problem that can permeate every job and line of work imaginable. This includes even those we entrust with our basic health and safety, such as medical practitioners. From doctors to therapists to psychologists and everything between, sexual abuse is a widespread issue that does not discriminate based on medical field.  Without a dedicated medical malpractice attorney, it can be difficult to navigate the complexities of civil abuse cases.

The Problem in Medicine Today and Sexual Assault

Patients of any sort of medicine can experience sexual abuse or assault, just as practitioners of any field of medicine can be the perpetrators. These practitioners include but are not limited to:

  • Physicians and primary care doctors
  • Psychologists and mental therapists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Massage therapists
  • Nursing home caretakers
  • Dentists
  • Prison doctors
  • Physical therapists
  • Chiropractors

In addition to the normal circumstances that make reporting sexual assault extremely difficult (feelings of shame, embarrassment, depression, fear of punishment, or self-blame by the victim), abuse in certain institutions can be even more complicated to combat, due to the perceived power dynamics intrinsic in these institutions.  In hospitals, for example, patients feel completely at the call of their physician, as we rely on their medical advice to make informed decisions about our bodies. This is similar to prisons or detention centers, where guards or key personnel can hold the power to an inmate’s health or human services.

It is also a massive problem in nursing homes or care facilities, where victims can be the helpless, unable to put an end to any abuse as well as unable to communicate when an assault has taken place.  The power dynamics at play in situations like these can make the victim feel helpless in reporting or stopping the abuse, and that is why a majority of sexual abuse cases are never reported to the proper authorities. Even cases that are can find themselves falling on deaf ears, never making it past the initial reporting stage.

Fighting this system of powerless responses to sexual assault is a top priority for The Clark Law Office, who work to combat sexual abuse by any practitioner, from therapists to caretakers.

Combating a Culture of Silence in The Medical Industry

However, the victims of sexual assault and abuse have legal rights, even if they have had their previous rights disregarded.  Through criminal lawsuits, civil lawsuits, and the combination civil/criminal lawsuit, victims can seek recompense for the deeply traumatic emotional, physical, and psychological pain they have endured, as well as punishment and justice for their abuser(s).  They can also extend lawsuits towards not only the perpetrators, but institutions that either failed to prevent abuse or contributed towards it. A non-definitive list of these institutions would include:

  • Nursing homes
  • Mental health facilities
  • Group or halfway homes
  • Hospitals
  • Detention centers
  • Universities
  • Group centers

By taking perpetrators and institutions to court in criminal and/or civil lawsuits, the victims can achieve more than just the financial compensation they deserve. They can work to ensure justice is brought to their abusers, and situations where future abuse could occur are limited.

When Institutions Are Liable For Sexual Misconduct

Under Michigan state law, numerous instances may accord a victim the right to hold an institution liable for a sexual abuse, in the case of that institution not adequately taking steps to protect and ensure the security of patients. These instances may include:

  • failure to conduct the necessary background checks on staff/personnel
  • failure to investigate comprehensively,
  • attempting to conceal the abuse, or failure to report it upon awareness
  • failure to intervene, prevent the abuse and protect patients
  • failure to have a mandatory reporting policy on abuse, on which staff is trained
  • neglecting in supervision of patients and employees
  • negligent security leading to criminal access

In cases involving one or more of those circumstances, victims of sexual assault and abuse can expand their lawsuits to more than just the perpetrators, but the institutions themselves.  However, it is generally advisory to consult experienced civil abuse attorneys whenever taking institutions to court, as they will likely have stronger strategies for ensuring a victim’s compensation.

The First Step In a Physician Sexual Misconduct Case

In any civil or criminal case involving sexual abuse, the first step is to reach out and consult attorneys experienced in the field.  The Clark Law Office has over forty years’ experience in practicing Michigan law, and are well-versed in the intricacies of civil abuse cases, to ensure victims get the compensation they wholly deserve.  If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse or assault by a medical practitioner in the state of Michigan, contact us today to see if you are liable for compensation by the perpetrator and/or institution.  A dedicated team of lawyers will work to support you in a civil, criminal, or civil/criminal case, and fight to guarantee that you get the proper recompense for all suffering endured as a result of a sexual abuse.  We guarantee that we will handle your case with discretion, confidentiality, and sensitivity.  We will fight to protect your rights.  Call us today for a free consultation at (517) 347-6900!

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