Sometimes health care practitioners, including doctors, take sexual advantage of their patients. People are often at their most vulnerable when being treated by a health care professional in an ambulance, while under anesthesia, or during physical examinations. A recent Oregonian story focuses on Dr. Frederick George Field, an anesthesiologist in the Dallas, who was indicted on August 3, 2011, for sexually abusing four of his former patients.
Several questions come to mind in regards to whether a doctor’s employer can be held responsible for the abuse. How long ago did the abuse happen? Had there been complaints to the employer about the health care worker or doctor prior to the alleged abuse? How well did the company investigate claims of inappropriate sexual activity?
Our law firm represented Royshekka Herring in a lawsuit against American Medical Response (AMR) for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of ambulance EMT Lannie Haszard. In that case, we showed that American Medical Response Northwest received at least three prior patient complaints of sexually-inappropriate behavior, yet the ambulance company did almost nothing to investigate Mr. Haszard. The jury award, statutory damages, and court-awarded attorney fees totaled nearly $4 million.
Recently, our law firm has partnered with a Missouri attorney to sue a local AMR-affiliated company called Medevac in Jackson County, Missouri for a patient who was sexually abused in an ambulance. We also have represented sex abuse victims against the Catholic Church, psychotherapists, and doctors.