Health Care Victim Abuse Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Health care providers – whether doctors, nurses, therapists, care home assistants or other professionals – operate according to a strict duty of care.
Patients and their families should be able to place a great deal of trust in this duty of care.
When it is not only breached but exploited for sexual gratification, it is a crime that should not go unpunished.
Health care abuse is more common than most people in Pennsylvania imagine. As lawyers representing health care abuse victims, we see the heavy toll it takes on victims and their families.
Our health care sexual abuse lawyers are ready to help you hold the perpetrators and the institutions they work for accountable for their actions.
UPDATE: HB 963 to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse
Hospital and nursing home sexual abuse
Unfortunately, sexual predators often prey on victims who are at their most vulnerable.
Patients in hospitals (both adults and children) and elderly or sick people in nursing homes are some of the most vulnerable people in society. They should be able to feel safe in these environments and, in the vast majority of cases, they receive exemplary care.
However, the reality is that sexual predators are present even in health care. A small minority of professionals abuse their position of power to sexually exploit patients.
This causes untold damage not only physically but mentally for the victims.
What action can you take against medical providers?
Whether you are an adult or child victim, you or your family may be able to take legal action against a nurse, doctor, nursing home assistant, therapist, dentist, or another medical professional who has abused you.
Pennsylvania tort law recognizes the right of a nursing home resident or hospital patient to seek financial compensation for injury resulting from abuse, neglect, or accidents.
The individual who abused you is not the only party who can be held accountable. If the abuser was employed by a health care provider, the institution itself can be held liable.
Claims can often be made against a hospital, clinic or nursing home for the following types of negligence:
- Negligent hiring practices
- Failure to screen employees and volunteers
- Lack of adequate supervision
- Inadequate security practices
Do medical professionals have to report sexual abuse?
Those who witness sexual abuse in hospitals and nursing homes certainly have a moral obligation to report it – as do individuals everywhere.
For medical personnel in Pennsylvania, the obligation is a legal one. Professionals are mandated to report instances of sexual abuse to the state authorities.
Failure to report sexual abuse can result in sanctions. This applies to:
- School nurses
- Mental health professionals, and
- Hospital employees
Sexual abuse by massage therapists/masseuses
Sexual abuse takes many forms – from inappropriate touching to violent sexual assault and rape.
Inappropriate touching is a common complaint made against massage therapists in spas, hotels, and massage parlors around Pennsylvania. Cases are becoming more publicized and this is encouraging more victims to step forward.
Massage businesses have a duty to take adequate measures against abuse and, depending on the circumstances, lawsuits may be filed against the individual therapist and/or against the massage business, spa, or hotel for whom they work.
Under-reported sexual abuse cases
Perhaps because of the nature of the massage business – where clients are semi-naked and touch is integral to the therapy – instances of sexual abuse in massage businesses are chronically under-reported.
Some victims are not sure whether a therapist has crossed the line. Others “freeze” from shock at the first sign of sexual contact and fail to report the abuse because they are not sure who will believe them.
However, massage therapists must follow clear professional guidelines. They are licensed by the state and all sexual contact between therapists and clients is prohibited by professional ethics as well as criminal law.
If a therapist touches your genitals or breasts during a session, they are crossing the line. Period.
The nature of massage therapy makes it relatively easy for a therapist to abuse their position of trust – with the client semi-naked, lying prone in an intimate environment, and at their most vulnerable.
The only way to stop abusers is to ensure that violators are reported – even if the abuse occurred years ago.
Drug or alcohol rehab sexual abuse
Drug or alcohol rehab centers are home to some of society’s most vulnerable people.
People with drug or alcohol addiction problems visit these centers to try to solve their problems but may be unfortunate enough to encounter sexual predators who hide out in such environments because they can get away with their crimes.
Often, victims are young and fearful of speaking out as it is their word against that of a professional health care employee.
Sexual abuse in psychiatric treatment facilities
Psychiatric facilities are another common location for health care sexual abuse.
The nature of the ailments from which psychiatric patients suffer makes them particularly vulnerable to sexual predators and often makes it difficult for them to step forward to provide testimony.
The unfortunate irony is that many patients in psychiatric facilities are already victims of abuse when they enter the facility. Historical abuse may have contributed to their condition only for them to be abused again when they enter the institution.
Psychiatric hospitals and behavioral centers must take adequate steps to prevent abuse from occurring with supervision for patients, regular bed checks, etc.
If these guidelines are violated and abuse is reported, the facility can be held liable under Pennsylvania law.
Residential facility sexual abuse
Residential facilities in Pennsylvania may house children in need of behavioral or mental health treatment.
Those convicted of a juvenile criminal offense without a family or caregivers may also reside in such group homes, where they have a right to feel safe.
Unfortunately, this is another prime location for sexual predators to prey on vulnerable individuals. Many times, children are groomed by those in a position of authority and trust. Leading to repeated sexual abuse.
If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse or assault at the hands of a health care provider, please don’t stay silent. Andreozzi + Foote can help you fight back and ensure that the perpetrators pay for their crimes. Call us at 877-214-3238 or reach us online.
What can sexual abuse victims in Pennsylvania do?
Regardless of the health care setting, sexual abuse should not be tolerated by anyone.
Whether you or a family member are the victim now, in recent times or historically, those responsible for the crimes against you should be held liable.
Only then will you receive a measure of justice and help prevent more abuse from being perpetrated against others.
It helps to have true victim advocates on your side. The sexual abuse lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote have offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and have personal experience of sexual abuse cases.
We are at the forefront of the battle against abuse in Pennsylvania and are ready to listen if you or someone you know has been abused in a health care facility.
If you would like the lawyers at Andreozzi & Foote to evaluate your case, please call 1 (877)-214-3238 for a free consultation.
All the information you provide will be treated confidentially, including your identity.
Verdicts and Settlements
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