As patients, we entrust ourselves to family physicians, surgeons, and medical specialists with the assumption that they have our best interests at heart, that they want to help make us healthy, that they will protect us from that which might harm us. Unfortunately, not all physician’s have their patient’s best interests in mind. In some cases, physicians abuse their power and take advantage of patients, sometimes getting away with it.
According to a recently released investigation, sexual abuse of patients is more common than many of us might assume. The year-long investigation, which was conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, revealed thousands of cases of physician sexual abuse of patients coming from every estate. To make matters worse, state medical boards don’t always hold physicians accountable for their behavior.
Sexual abuse by a physician is obviously a grave breach of trust, and this can lead to long-term trauma for a patient. Not only can anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and a variety of other effects result from physician sexual abuse, but an abused patient may find that they have a hard time trusting any doctor again.
Aside from criminal and licensing matters, patients who suffer from physician sexual abuse have the right to seek compensation in the civil justice system in medical malpractice litigation. Malpractice litigation is based on a physician’s breach of an accepted standard of care, and this can include breach of the physician-patient relationship.
For patients who have suffered from physician sexual abuse, it is particularly important to have advocacy seeking appropriate damages, and maximizing those damages, in their case. Though an experienced attorney cannot guarantee a specific result in any case, he or she can ensure zealous advocacy of an abused patient’s rights and interest.