PA Health Department: Lancaster General Lacked Abuse Response System
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has cited Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health for an alleged failure to institute a proper response system for allegations of sexual abuse. The department made a surprise visit to Lancaster General Hospital in September after an employee was accused of sexually assaulting a patient.
A report from the state claims that the hospital said the assault allegations were unfounded. But police eventually charged Shawn Moyer, a pulmonary therapist at the hospital, and the hospital placed him on administrative leave. Moyer was accused of inappropriately touching an unconscious patient. According to the report, investigators also discovered three other abuse claims which were never reported.
The Health Department claims that the facility failed to institute a system for investigating allegations of sexual abuse. According to the report, “This failure placed the patients who alleged the abuse and other patients in the hospital that may have had contact with the staff member in question, at risk.”
The hospital submitted an action plan, which was accepted on November 14, 2018. This plan includes the following responses:
- Involvement of senior leadership and senior counsel to ensure investigations are complete and reporting is timely;
- Revising the policy for allegations or witnesses assaults of a patient with clear expectations, documentation, and timeframes;
- Developing a tracking tool to document each step of the investigation;
- Modifying the education for mandatory reporting.
Are Hospitals Liable for Sexual Abuse of Patients?
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com specializes in representing survivors of sexual assault, helping them find justice in civil courts. We’ve asked him to share some thoughts on hospital liability for the sexual abuse of patients:
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a duty to make sure their patients are safe. This includes providing proper medical care along with protecting patients from abuse and assault by other patients and employees. When a patient is sexually abused in a healthcare facility, it’s important to determine if the facility was negligent in a way that allowed the abuse to occur or if they mishandled reports of abuse.
For example, a hospital could potentially be considered negligent if they failed to report suspected abuse to law enforcement or if they failed to run a background check and ended up hiring an employee with a history of sexual misconduct.
If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted at a healthcare facility, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. You can learn more about your family’s legal options by contacting one of our experienced sexual assault survivors attorneys.