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Failure to properly train staff could be hospital negligence

In nearly every industry, employees are provided with policies and procedures regarding a variety of situations, including sexual harassment and assault. The general belief among Illinois readers may be that these guidelines apply to contact between employees. However, hospitals are also required to have policies and procedures regarding what to do if a patient complains of being sexually harassed or assaulted. Failure to properly train staff regarding these situations could constitute hospital negligence.

An 85-year-old woman from another state is claiming that a hospital in her area was negligent in failing to properly handle her complaint of sexual assault. Further, one of its employees was allowed to remain on the premises and employed after several women complained of being sexually assaulted. The attacks took place over the course of several days.

This Pennsylvania woman complained to a nurse immediately after she was assaulted, and the nurse dismissed her complaint as the man changing her catheter. However, she had not had a catheter. When she complained to another staff member, she was asked if she had been dreaming. It took numerous re-tellings of her story before someone actually took her seriously. The man believed to be responsible for these attacks was arrested by police and faces criminal charges.

Every complaint of physical or sexual assault from patients should be taken seriously. Hospitals are entrusted with the care and safety of patients, and any betrayal of that trust could be hospital negligence. Here in Illinois, a patient who has been through an ordeal similar to this woman's may be entitled to damages if the court finds that negligence occurred.

Source:, "UPMC Mercy hospital hit with sexual assault lawsuit", Bob Mayo, Aug. 17, 2015

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