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Is it malpractice for doctors to behave inappropriately?

Most people think of malpractice as an error or negligence by a doctor or other medical professional that causes harm to a patient. While most cases involve things like that, an Indiana malpractice case is about something very different.

More than 80 women are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a Marion OB-GYN as well as three health care facilities, including Marion General Hospital. The allegations range from sexual assault to taking photos of their genitalia.

The 83 plaintiffs range in age from 15 to 73. They were his patients at various times over the past three decades at the facilities named in the suit. They also say that the facilities breached their duty because they were made aware of the allegations and “took no effective steps to detect, prevent or report the negligence, misconduct or abuse.” According to the suit, even nurses and other staff members at the hospital who reported the doctor’s conduct were ignored by those in authority.

The statute of limitations and damages

While some of alleged behavior is past the statute of limitations of two years, the suit notes that some of the women didn’t realize the extent of the doctor’s actions until long after they occurred. This can be the case in situations where doctors assure patients (or patients assume) that what they’re doing to them is medically necessary and appropriate when it’s not.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for mental trauma, emotional distress and humiliation. Under Indiana law, there’s a cap of $250,000 in damages per case. However, each alleged action could be considered a separate case of malpractice. More alleged victims are expected to come forward.

Possible criminal charges

The doctor, whose medical license was suspended and who is reportedly now retired, could face criminal charges as well. Just this September, a special prosecutor was announced because people in the county prosecutor’s office had been patients of his.

In sensitive areas of medical care, it can be difficult and embarrassing to report what you believe to be malpractice. Unfortunately, even when people try to go through the steps to report a problem, they don’t always get justice. Even if they do, a doctor may not face the necessary consequences and go on to harm others. It’s always wise to get legal guidance as soon as possible if you’re concerned about a doctor’s actions.