Former USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall

Numerous USC students are formally accusing ex-campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall of molesting patients at the student health center. As a result, the USC president, Max Nikias, has agreed to resign.

The sexual assault allegations against former USC gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall are resulting in civil lawsuits against the University. The lawsuits claim that Tyndall routinely made crude comments, took inappropriate photographs and forced the young female students to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his “sexual gratification.

Dr. Tyndall’s behavior came to light when the Los Angeles Times reported about complaints dating back to the 1990s and also reports that at least 200 women have come forward with allegations. Dr. Tyndall resigned in 2017 after receiving a secret payout from USC.

Physician sex abuse is an ongoing problem

In 2016, an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on thousands of cases of sexual abuse by a physician. A spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center states, “it is astounding that, at the systemic level, there seem to be conditions where sexual abuse is allowed to happen, and physicians aren’t held accountable.”

Trust is the cornerstone of a relationship between a medical professional (physician, dentist, nurse) and a patient. Thus, violations during encounters between those professionals and a patient can cause the patient profound, lasting harm. Physician errors and misconduct result in profound devastation among patients who feel their lives will never be the same. Those who have experienced sex abuse by their physician may stop going to the doctor altogether. This in turn results in an adverse health effect.

Doctors’ power and authority result in victims failing to question inappropriate behaviors

Doctors have implied consent to touch their patients’ bodies, making it hard for patients to distinguish inappropriate behavior. Further, because we tend to place doctors on a pedestal, we may not question a medical professional when we think they have misbehaved. Another study conducted over a decade (from 2003 to 2013) concluded that a medical board did not discipline two-thirds of physicians who had strong evidence of sexual misconduct against them.

No consequences for physicians who have sexually abused their patients

This lack of consequences for physicians who sexually abuse their patients begs the question of whether an institution can adequately police itself. Medical boards are primarily filled with physicians who may be less than objective when disciplining other physicians. Although recent sexual misconduct allegations have instigated change, the medical community seems to be much more forgiving. In cases in which physicians are disciplined, their punishments are extremely light. For example, a short suspension combined with counseling which typically treats sex abuse as an addiction.

Inappropriate behavior by California gynecologist results in therapy and probation

Case in point: The California medical board had substantial evidence of at least four different occasions when gynecologist Dr. Anthony Bianchi acted in an incredibly inappropriate manner with three different patients. Bianchi agreed to undergo counseling and cease treating women during his five years of probation under a settlement with the California Medical Board. Despite decades of complaints regarding the leniency of the medical disciplinary boards, there have been few changes.

Few physicians disciplined by medical boards

In 2016, health services researcher Azza Abbudagga published a report which detailed sexual misconduct on the part of physicians. The report found that of the 253 doctors reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank after being sanctioned by their hospital or healthcare organization for sexual misconduct, state medical boards disciplined fewer than half. The Federation of State Physician Health Programs calls sexual misconduct and sexual harassment by physicians an impairment. Once the doctor’s “impairment” is treated, he is sent back to work.

Medical boards frustrated by lack of disciplinary options

Jason Rosenberg, former chairman of the Florida medical board, says the leniency granted to sexually abusive doctors is often a frustration for medical board members as well. Rosenberg points to a 2013 Florida case when the Florida medical board allowed a psychiatrist to keep his license after allegations that he sexually molested jailed psychiatric patients. The board reached a settlement with the psychiatrist which did not require that he admit guilt. Rosenberg says he found the outcome to be unacceptable, noting that the system was severely deficient.

Contact our law firm if you are a victim of physician sexual abuse

When it comes to representing young victims of sexual abuse, few law firms enjoy our record of success. We routinely secure maximum compensation for victims, allowing them to have the financial resources to heal from the permanent harm caused by sexual abuse. More importantly, we view every sex abuse case as an opportunity to raise awareness, change laws, and better protect others from also becoming a sexual abuse victim.

Call the sexual abuse attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard at 408-289-1417 for a free and confidential consultation. You pay no fees until we successfully resolve your case.