Medical Professionals Have An Ethical Duty To Prevent Assaults In Their Practice

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, law enforcement officers in Fulton County Georgia charged a man with crimes related to sexually assaulting women who were under anesthesia. The male nurse was booked into the Fulton County jail on allegations of two counts of sexual battery and two counts of custodial sexual assault. The man turned himself into the jail approximately one week after a warrant issued for his arrest.

The nurse was an employee of a healthcare facility that performed endoscopies. Law enforcement alleges that the nurse groped two while they were under the effects of anesthesia. To this point, only two women have come forward. There may be more victims.

The allegations came to light when a pastor at a local church gave Sandy Springs police information that the nurse molested several women at the clinic, all of whom were suffering from the effects of anesthesia. The pastors told police that they learned the nurse began looking that the women in an inappropriate manner, lifted the women’s shirts, removed their bras, and fondled their breasts.

The pastors learned of this information from conversations with the male nurse allegedly. The pastors spoke with a police officer initially then were taken to speak with a detective. The detective issued a warrant for the male nurse’s arrest after the interview with the pastors. One police officer summed up the gravity of the situation nicely by stating that the crime was particularly egregious because the patients believed they were in a place in which they were completely safe. There was no cause for concern, initially. Allowing yourself to be placed under anesthesia requires a level of trust on the patient’s behalf.

The nurse’s employer immediately fired him upon learning of the allegations. The facility’s lawyer stated that his clients were shocked by the allegations. Through its counsel, the healthcare facility said that they perform background checks for all of their employees before hiring them, including the nurse against whom the allegations were made. The facility also pledged to cooperate with police in their investigation. Law enforcement authorities are asking for anyone with additional information to come forward.

In Kansas, each physician has an obligation to practice medicine competently and honorably. Furthermore, any surgical procedures which physicians perform at their office instead a hospital must be under conditions that are sanitary and safe, according to Kansas State regulations. The regulations specify that every doctor’s office is satisfied regulatory standards including preventing foreseeable harm to patients, staff, and to the public. Additionally, physician’s offices must be constructed in a manner that prevents unauthorized individuals from entering certain areas of the office such as recovery rooms and patient record rooms. So important is the safety of patients that the regulations require a physician to report any issues they experience with patient and staff safety.

Missouri’s Healing Arts Practice Act also obligates physicians and other healthcare professionals to protect their patients’ physical and mental well-being. Included in that duty would be the obligation to protect a patient from being physically attacked in the doctor’s office. The physician has a concomitant obligation to protect patients from physical harm as they do to protect the patient from being harmed by malpractice.

Doctors offices should take all reasonable measures to determine who their employees are by performing background checks, even if they are licensed by a state board of registration. Additionally, medical offices should have a system in place to have more than one employee watch over patients recovering from anesthesia.

Call For Further Information

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Defense Lawyer Danielle Sanger has represented numerous health care professionals who are facing licensing discipline. Contact Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a consultation and learn how she will vigorously defend your livelihood.