A North Carolina woman has filed a medical malpractice claim against a North Carolina hospital and others for allegedly failing to protect her from being raped by a male patient she did not know who was placed in the same room with her while she was sedated. The woman was brought to the hospital around 11 p.m. by her mother because the woman was depressed and suicidal. She was placed in the psychiatric unit of the emergency room and given Percocet.
Less than one hour later, a man with a history of assaulting women was placed in the same room as the woman. Over the course of the next two hours, the man sexually assaulted the woman by “climbing on top of her, touching her, fondling her and engaging in contact of a sexual nature with her” while she was alseep or too groggy from the medication to resist, call for help, or prevent the attacks, according to her medical malpractice lawsuit. The two were allegedly in the same room from 11:45 p.m. until 9:00 a.m. the next morning.
The woman reported the assaults to the hospital at 11:00 a.m., when she was first able to do so. She was transferred to another hospital after 2:00 p.m. the same day. The hospital initially performed an internal investigation but did not immediately report the matter to the police. The hospital claimed that it was unable to retrieve surveillance tapes that showed the assaults until several days later.
The woman’s medical malpractice claim alleges that the nurse responsible to check on her every 15 minutes while she was in her room in the psychiatric unit of the hospital’s emergency department failed to do so for several hours and that it was gross negligence to place a male patient with a history of assaulting women in the same room with the woman, especially while she was sedated.
Despite the man’s guilty plea and conviction for attempted second-degree rape of the woman for which he was sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison, the hospital and the other defendants deny any wrongdoing and even deny that the man was placed in the same room as the woman. The medical malpractice case is scheduled for trial during September 2013.
If the allegations of the woman’s medical malpractice claims are proved to be true, it would seem that the defendants were, at a minimum, grossly negligent. When patients seek medical treatment in hospitals, they reasonably expect that the hospital will not place them in unreasonable situations where their health and safety are threatened or compromised. It is especially important for hospitals to take all necessary precautions to protect patients who cannot protect themselves, such as patients who are young, old, disabled, or in altered states of mind because of medications or other circumstances.
If you were injured as a result of hospital negligence in North Carolina or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney to learn about your rights and responsibilities with regard to your matter.
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