How many people are sexually assaulted in U.S. hospitals? No one knows.


Many more patients reported hospital sexual abuse in the United Kingdom in the last three years. Police data counted 1,600 attacks recorded: a 50% increase, and an alarming number.

Do you want to know how that compares to sexual abuses in U.S. hospitals?

Too bad—somehow, no one has counted the number of rapes and assaults in U.S. hospitals.

Unfortunately, that’s not because sexual abuse isn’t happening in medical facilities across the U.S.

Just recently…

  • A contract nurse was transferred from hospital to hospital, trailed by accusations of molestation and sexual abuse. The contractor didn’t fire him until he was finally caught and arrested.
  • A California nursing assistant has been accused of sexually assaulting brain injury patients. One of them reported an attack to hospital staff and was called “delusional”…even though a different patient had made a similar complaint the year before.
  • A hospital employee has confessed to sexually assaulting unconscious or semi-conscious patients. Police say there may be nearly 100 victims.

There are hundreds of isolated stories about rape and sexual abuse in medical facilities.

But we don’t know how often sexual assault occurs in hospitals, or how often it is reported. We don’t know who the perpetrators are, or what the repercussions are for victims.

Here are some disturbing commonalities in many of these cases.

1. Victims are in a vulnerable state.

Abuse and assault by people in positions of power is not an anomaly. Sexual abusers and rapists often seek victims who are vulnerable. That’s why hospitals and nursing homes must be vigilant in monitoring and reporting: patients can be ill, heavily medicated, confined.

2. Victims are often assumed to be lying or delusional. 

Sadly, this is often true for victims of sexual violence. But medical facilities have a duty to patient safety: therefore, you err on the side of the accused, rather than the accuser. Since there are seemingly no statistics about rape and assault in hospitals, there also is no evidence of false accusations.

3. There are people on staff who know or suspect the abuser. 

The medical profession has a reputation for a “code of silence”. Patients are often harmed by undocumented medical errors. Nurses cover for dangerous doctors. Administrators go to great lengths to protect hospital staff instead of protecting patients. All of this may contribute to covering up of sexual abuse occurring in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities.

We can’t reduce and prevent sexual violence by ignoring it.

Read a real victim’s story of hospital sexual abuse here

If you know of statistics on sexual abuse in U.S. hospitals, please share with us @damorelaw