Last Update: 7/13/2020
A forensic analysis of the cellphones of six former Laguna Honda Hospital employees has revealed at least 130 incidents of patients being abused. This new number is a sharp increase from the 23 incidents which were previously reported by San Francisco city officials.
The newly uncovered incidents of abuse took place between 2016 and January of 2019. In both the previously reported 23 incidents and these newly reported ones, recordings show physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of patients by hospital employees.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital chief quality officer Troy Williams testified before an oversight committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
According to Williams, there is no evidence of sexual assault in these recordings, but there are photos of nude patients. Williams also said that most of these newly discovered cases involve breaches of privacy, such as photos of private health information.
City public health officials began an effort to institute reforms at Laguna Honda Hospital following the news of the first 23 incidents of abuse.
In June, Mayor London Breed made public information that six now-former employees allegedly abused 23 patients. These incidents of abuse including kicking one patient, discussing sexual topics with several others, taking nude photographs, and unnecessarily drugging patients.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) investigated these abuse allegations and uncovered several “primary contributing factors” to the abuse of patients – including inadequate medication management, workplace safety, and hospital leadership. This report also determined that the hospital was out of compliance due to a failure to protect patient privacy, to make sure patients are not subjected to chemical restraints, and to prevent patients from being verbally, physically, and mentally abused.
A criminal investigation into these allegations of patient abuse remains ongoing. Williams testified that he is currently setting up interviews between the San Francisco Police Department and residents of Laguna Honda as part of this investigation. He also testified that licensing and certification boards have been contacted to ensure that the six accused employees are not permitted to work in the health care field again.
At least two lawsuits have been filed against the city of San Francisco in this case. The city has also paid a $780,000 fine and additional fines are expected in the wake of these new recordings.
In addition to the six fired workers, two top executives have also resigned following the initial reports of abuse.
Attorney contributor and sexual abuse lawyer Bobby Thompson represents victims of physical and sexual abuse in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Bobby has offered to weigh in with some thoughts on the legal rights available to hospital abuse victims and their families:
“Patient safety must be a top priority for all healthcare facilities. We all turn to the healthcare field when we need medical assistance and place our trust in these professionals to treat us with respect and provide us with the care we need. Employees who abuse their patients not only traumatize the victims but damage the public trust in the health care field as a whole. The victims of these crimes deserve answers, support, and justice,” concludes Mr. Thompson.