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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Exposes Patient Sexual Abuse by Physicians

August 29th, 2016

In July 2016, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released the first installment in its multi-media Doctors & Sex Abuse investigative series. The series delves into sexual misconduct among physicians nationwide. The newspaper began investigating physician abuse in Georgia last year and, after looking at those results, expanded the investigation to the rest of the country. Reporters and legal researchers looked at public records, contacted medical boards and regulatory agencies for information, and even wrote approximately 50 computer programs to cull through regulatory websites and collect disciplinary documents.

The newspaper analyzed more than 100,000 medical board orders nationwide relating to disciplinary actions against physicians since 1999. It found that sexual abuse perpetuated by physicians occurs more often than most people might expect and that the system often protects the doctors involved. In public records, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found 3,000 cases of sexual abuse related to physicians, 2,400 of those cases involved patients. However, those numbers represented only a fraction of physicians with sexual violations since the beginning of 1999. Many cases never came to the attention of state regulators or were not posted publicly.

The investigation found that some doctors were disciplined only once and a few had hundreds of violations, yet they continued to legally practice medicine. Victims ranged from babies to women in their 80s and included people sexually assaulted in a variety of scenarios and locations. Some were victimized during routine examinations and some were assaulted while under sedation, in doctor’s offices, hospitals, prisons and elsewhere.

The series will run through the end of 2016. Click here for articles and videos: http://doctors.ajc.com/.

The Doctors & Sex Abuse investigation clearly shows that sexual abuse by doctors is a nationwide epidemic. If you or someone you love has been a victim of physician sexual abuse, the medical malpractice attorneys at Mittelman Law Firm can provide experienced counsel and help you understand your options. We provide complimentary case evaluations that are handled with sensitivity and confidentiality. Contact us today online at Mittelmanlawfirm.com or call (877) 771-4878.

Violating the Hippocratic Oath: Doctors’ Sexual Abuse of Patients

August 29th, 2016

Barring an existing intimate relationship between doctor and patient, such as a marriage or romantic partnership, there are no circumstances under which sexual relations between doctor and patient should occur. All doctors understand this and take an oath to uphold the utmost professional standards. It’s a practice that has been integral to the medical profession for centuries.

More than 2,000 years ago, when Hippocrates tendered the Hippocratic Oath, these words were included: “Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular sexual relations with both female and male persons…”

The oath, which doctors completing medical school still take today in various versions, states the ethical and moral obligations that doctors have to their patients. While the vast majority of the country’s more than 900,000 licensed physicians are caring and conscientious individuals who hold the oath as inviolate, there are a minority of doctors that violate the sacred pledge they have taken and violate the trust of their patients. Over the years, there have been thousands of reports of sexual misconduct by physicians. Most abuse cases, as many as 90 percent by some estimates, are believed to go unreported.

Sexual misconduct is always unethical and often criminal. It includes everything from inappropriate sexual comments and innuendo to unnecessary breast examinations to sexual touching, digital and penile penetration, and even forcible rape. It can happen in a doctor’s office, in an outpatient clinic or in a hospital. In whatever way it happens, sexual contact between doctor and patient should not happen. It does not only violate the Hippocratic Oath-most importantly, it violates individual patients and the trust they place their in doctor.

What to Do if You Have Been a Victim of Physician Sexual Misconduct

August 29th, 2016

There are thousands of documented cases in the United States of doctors sexually abusing patients.
Unfortunately, an estimated 85 percent of such misconduct incidents go unreported because the victims don’t come forward. They may feel guilty about damaging a doctor’s livelihood, think they won’t be believed, unjustifiably feel as if they were somehow complicit, or are ashamed to come forward. Often, patients simply may not know how to go about reporting what has happened.

If you believe you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by a physician, it is important to speak out both for yourself and to help end a potential pattern of abuse. First, tell someone you trust about what happened. Having a conversation about the incident can help you better what happened and gain support in coming forward.

Depending on the seriousness of the sexual misconduct, reporting the incident may mean speaking with the police, the hospital, clinic, practice group or other medical institution the doctor is associated with, or the state medical board. There are also advocacy organizations such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673), that offer support to victims of sexual assault by physicians. You may also wish to contact an attorney about filing a medical malpractice claim against the doctor.

It is critically important not to wait to report the incident because there is a statute of limitations on filing medical malpractice claims. It can vary depending on the incident, but in most cases in California, the limit is one year.

Deciding to come forward and then deciding who to report the sexual misconduct to is not easy. The medical malpractice attorneys at Mittelman Law Firm are highly experienced in handling physician sexual misconduct claims and can help you understand your options and the best path forward for your individual situation. We provide complimentary case evaluations that are handled with sensitivity and confidentiality. Contact us today online at http://mittelmanlawfirm.com or call (877) 771-4878.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Physician Sexual Misconduct

August 29th, 2016

The vast majority of the more than 900,000 licensed medical doctors in the United States are ethical, moral and conscientious people who care deeply about their patients’ health and welfare. Unfortunately, there are practicing physicians who take advantage of their patients’ illnesses, vulnerabilities and trust to prey on them sexually. While physicians who sexually violate their patients are a minority, every single incident of sexual misconduct can cause devastating and long-lasting trauma to its individual victims.

Many doctors who assault patients are repeat abusers because they have gotten away with it in the past. Their illicit activities may have gone unreported by patients, they may have been reprimanded but those proceedings were confidential, or in some cases, the abuse reports were ignored by their employer. So while not all information on every doctor is available publicly, there are some online tools that can help consumers find information about doctors and possible incidents of sexual misconduct.

• The California Department of Consumer Affairs website (www.breeze.ca.gov) allows consumers to verify licenses of physicians and other professionals. It will tell you if the license is current or suspended and whether there are any proceedings against the individual.

• The Federation of State Medical Boards (www.docinfo.org) provides an easy-to-navigate link to state medical boards. Type in a physician’s name and state to find licensing data and information on actions taken against the doctor.

• Healthgrades.com provides information and consumer reviews on doctors and sexual misconduct actions. General internet searches on doctors, medical groups and hospitals can also help uncover reports about sexual misconduct actions. If a case has high visibility there may be news reports online, social and media posts. If a doctor or medical institution has many complaints against it, blogs and even websites may have been created to warn the public. One example of such a website is www.uhsbehindcloseddoors.org, which highlights issues at Universal Health Services, the country’s largest provider of inpatient behavioral health care.

Even with the tools available, it is important to remember that not all information on every doctor is available online. In fact, much of the information relating to sexual misconduct and doctors is not publicly available. When visiting a physician, it is important to also rely on your own instincts and be aware of inappropriate behaviors such as sexual innuendo, sexual questions not related to your reason for visiting, inappropriate touching and other abusive behaviors.

If you believe you may have been the victim of sexual misconduct, the medical malpractice attorneys at Mittelman Law Firm can provide you with a confidential and complimentary case evaluation. Contact us today online at www.mittelmanlawfirm.com or call (877) 771-4878.

A Conspiracy of Silence—Physician Sexual Misconduct

August 29th, 2016

Public Citizen, a Washington D.C.-based consumer advocacy rights group, released a study earlier this year that focused on sexual misconduct by physicians. The data used in the study was taken from reports to the National Practitioner Databank for the period 2003-2013. The databank is a federally mandated database that receives disciplinary reports about medical doctors related to different types of malpractice.

The non-profit advocacy group found that during the 10-year period it studied, 1,039 reports were related to sexual misconduct. The reports came from hospitals, malpractice insurance carriers, medical boards and other healthcare organizations. Of the more than 1,000 reports, 253 of them were hospital reports of doctors disciplined for sexual misconduct. Cases that are reported to the databank are also reported to state medical boards. The study found that of the 253 hospital cases reported to the databank, 70 percent of those doctors did not receive any further discipline from their medical boards.

Like conspiracies of silence related to sexual assault concerning priests and college athletes, there is a conspiracy of silence today related to physician sexual misconduct with patients. And like the past reluctance to punish sexual abusers, so it is with doctors today. But what has caused the silence and inaction in the first place?

A variety of things contribute. A majority of patients are afraid to bring abuses to light because they may be ashamed or intimidated by the doctors’ perceived status or they simply don’t know the process for reporting. Nurses and other medical personnel may be too intimidated by doctors or afraid of losing their jobs to report abuses. The system lacks a cohesive method for complete reporting to all of the agencies and medical boards that should be notified. As an example, a doctor disciplined and released from one hospital may end up finding work at another hospital because the local medical board for the new hospital is unaware of the previous disciplinary action. Sometimes boards and other medical organizations are aware, but would rather protect their own by keeping abuses in the dark. There are a variety of very complicated reasons why doctors who have been found to be abusers continue to practice, or why they are not found out at all.

Patients who are abused must come forward to bring the abuse to light.

If you believe you have been abused, it is important to first discuss it with someone you know and trust. This can help you gain the courage to come forward. It is also important to report the abuse as soon as possible. The statute of limitations on many of these cases is just one year.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Mittelman Law Firm are can help you understand your options. Our medical malpractice attorneys provide sensitive and confidential complimentary case evaluations. Contact us today online at Mittelmanlawfirm.com or call (877) 771-4878 for more information.

SHARE YOUR GOOD LAWYER STORY WITH THE WORLD!

April 9th, 2013

We all know someone we admire and here’s your chance to shout them out for the world to hear and learn about.  Simply click the form below and add your information to the form.  We’ll collect and publish as many Stories as possible.  This project is in conjunction with the wonderful efforts of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) charitable foundation Trial Lawyers Care (“TLC”), which can be found at TrialLawyersCare.org

Click on this Submission Form to share your story!


FABULOUS TRIAL LAWYER

April 9th, 2013

•     I have no reservation in recommending Mr. Mittelman and endorsing the quality of his work. He has always been mindful of his clients needs and circumstances and consistently places those interests above any others during his representation.  He is an outstanding legal advocate and trial attorney.  I learned, when I was formerly on the defense side, that he can also be a deadly opponent in litigation.

        Jeffrey Erickson, Plaintiff’s Trial Lawyer in Redlands, CA and Former Defense Attorney

JOHN IS THE REAL DEAL

April 9th, 2013

•     I have had the pleasure of knowing John for about 9 years and have no hesitation in highly recommending him to potential clients.  John is always involved in his clients’ matters from the first meeting through resolution, whether trial or settlement.  He does not bring cases in and have paralegals or others communicate with his clients.  John is always available to his clients and is adept at understanding his clients’ concerns, emotions and needs.  He is empathetic and fantastic at analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of cases, analyzing and implementing terrific strategies which give his clients the best chance of prevailing on their matters.  Unlike many lawyers, John also explains all of this to his clients in an easily understood manner. I have no hesitation unconditionally and enthusiastically referring clients to John.

        Hartford Brown, Contracts / Agreements Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA

DILIGENT, FOCUSED, & DETERMINED

April 9th, 2013

•     I have known John for over 20 years and highly recommend him for any personal injury matter in California.  He is very creative, aggressive, and responsive to his clients.  John has obtained outstanding results for his clients through hard work, diligence and focused determination.  John truly cares about his clients, and is always looking out for their long term benefit in his results and counseling.  Again it is my pleasure to highly recommend Attorney Mittelman.

        John Kleindinst, Business Attorney, San Diego and Los Angeles, CA

JOHN FIGHTS HARD FOR HIS CLIENTS!

April 9th, 2013

•    John is a very smart lawyer – a caring lawyer – a lawyer who fights hard for his clients’ rights!  I personally worked on a very complicated matter with John and he proved himself to be detail oriented, tenacious and very competent.  His advocacy skills are top-shelf. I highly recommend John!

        Stuart Fraenkel, Aviation Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA