Molestation and sexual abuse is unfortunately, a recognized and commonly discussed concern in the healthcare industry. While no amount of money can take away the pain a victim endures, campaigns like the #MeToo movement have made it more possible than ever before for victims to let their voice be heard and seek justice from their abusers. This important and long-overdue cultural shift should be celebrated and embraced.
Along with the tremendous emotional toll attached to a sexual assault case, leaders of healthcare organizations must also focus on the liability aspect of the situation as well. While the first step in responding to allegations of sexual assault cases should always be to care for the victim and listen to their stories, being prepared for the legal consequences cannot be ignored.
As sexual abuse cases become more common, and new contractual requirements for sexual abuse coverage are put into place for many, it is critical for healthcare organizations to thoroughly check their insurance policies to ensure they are covered in the event of a lawsuit.
Nuclear Verdicts and Reviver Statutes
There have been several high-dollar, high profile verdicts and settlements related to abuse and molestation in healthcare in recent years that highlight the need for coverage against abuse and molestation claims.
- Michigan State University and The United States Gymnastics team have reached a combined $880 million in settlements with the victims of Dr. Larry Nassar, a former Team USA and Michigan State sports physician. One of the most high profile cases of sexual abuse and molestation in recent memory, Nassar’s pattern of abuse dates back over a decade with both Olympic and Michigan State student athletes falling victim.
- The University of Southern California has paid out over $1 billion in settlements to victims of Dr. George Tyndall, a former gynecologist for the school. Allegations of abuse against Tyndall surfaced in 2018 with thousands of patients coming forward.
- The University of Michigan paid out $490 million to victims of Dr. Robert Anderson, who formerly worked as the team doctor for the Michigan football team. Anderson died in 2008, but abused more than 1,000 student athletes during his tenure with the school.
- In Georgia, an inappropriate sexual relationship between a minor and a 40-year-old behavioral health facility employee resulted in a $55 million verdict.
- A Georgia jury awarded a dental patient $3.7 million after an anesthetist sexually assaulted her in her sleep during a procedure.
Although it can be difficult to imagine preparing for a sexual assault case from a legal perspective, it’s still extremely important. It’s also something that must be done without sacrificing care for the abuse victim.
According to the 2021 Assurex Global Healthcare benchmark report, 56% of healthcare facilities do not carry abuse and molestation coverage. While this coverage can be purchased as standalone coverage, the premium is often part of professional liability coverages. This makes it critical to check on policies and find out whether your organization is covered in the event of a sexual abuse case.
Talk to a trusted RCM&D advisor today for more information on abuse and molestation coverage.