A Growing Reality: Assault and Rape in Hospitals and Medical Facilities

Published on November 22nd, 2023

assault and rape in hospitals thurswell lawA recent report from the Joint Commission found that there is an “alarming rise” in assaults and rape in hospitals and medical facilities. The first troubling item, of course, is that these crimes occur at all. The second is that they are increasing in number – and that’s just the assaults and rapes that are reported.

Causes of Violence in Healthcare Settings

There is an extreme difference between patients who act out as a result of their health condition and healthcare workers or patients who deliberately target others with the intention of causing harm. Why does violence occur at all in hospitals and medical facilities? The Joint Commission has identified several reasons:

  • Inadequate response to reported security threats.
  • Insufficient security systems and personnel.
  • Deficient mental health vetting of hospital employees and providers.
  • Lack of identification of patient mental health issues.
  • Failure to include local police in security planning.
  • Lack of training in responding to agitated and possible violent patients.
  • Inadequate policies and procedures for responding to workplace violence.
  • Poor hiring practices and inadequate background checks.

Terrifying Sentinel Events in Medical Facilities

It is difficult to wrap your mind around the idea that anyone is suffering any type of harm in hospitals and medical facilities, let alone assault or rape. But healthcare workers and patients are all vulnerable. This disturbing new evidence is categorized as a Sentinel event which, according to the Joint Commission, results in death, severe harm, or permanent harm. A Sentinel event is not related to the patient’s illness or underlying condition.

If any of the following situations occur when a person or employee is on site at a healthcare facility or while receive or providing healthcare, it is considered a Sentinel event:

  • The sexual abuse or assault of any patient receive care, services, and treatment.
  • The sexual abuse or assault of a staff member, licensed independent practitioner, visitor, or vendor.
  • Physical assault leading to death, permanent harm, or severe harm of any patient receive care, services, and treatment.
  • The homicide of any patient receiving care, services, and treatment.

An Undertone of Criminal Healthcare

All these crimes form a category all their own – a terrifying and unbelievable one – far beyond preventable medical errors or delayed diagnosis. In an environment where people are supposed to feel safe and cared for, where they are meant to heal and find strength, there is a threat of violence and violation from the very hands of those delivering care.

The logical summary from the Joint Commission is that healthcare organizations and facilities are obliged to keep all patients and providers safe while receiving or delivering care. The rising level of these crimes has created the immediate need for healthcare institutions to prevent assault, rape, and homicide in healthcare settings.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of assault or rape in a medical environment, schedule a consultation with Thurswell Law immediately to discuss your case by calling (248) 354-2222 today. Find out how you can get compensation for your suffering. We do not charge any fees until we win.

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