Columbia University Sets Up $100 Million Fund To Help Sexual Abuse Victims of OBGYN Robert Hadden
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (December 5, 2023) – Columbia University announced a number of new initiatives related to the sexual abuse victims of Robert Hadden.
The news of the sweeping changes come after ProPublica and New York Magazine uncovered how the school ignored warnings about disgraced OBGYN Robert Hadden. The initiatives were revealed on the Columbia University Irvine Medical Center’s website. Among other things the plan:
- Commits to an external investigation to thoroughly examine the circumstances and failures that allowed Hadden’s abuse to continue;
- Notifies nearly 6500 former patients of the crimes for which Hadden has been convicted and sentenced;
- Offers survivors the opportunity to participate in a new $100 million survivors’ settlement fund;
- Launches a center for patient safety and initiates engagement with outside experts to review CUIMC’s current quality and patient safety programs, policies, and procedures.
The ProPublica investigation revealed that the doctor abused at least hundreds of patients over the course of his 25 year-career at the university. In 2012, Robert Hadden was arrested for sexual assault and the university continued to allow him to see patients.
Hadden has seen nearly 6,500 patients, all of whom are supposed to be notified. The purpose of the settlement fund is to help those who do not want to go through the court system.
The policy decisions by Columbia come after years where they fought lawsuits brought by victims. Now, however, Robert Hadden has been convicted of sex crimes in January, 2023 and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.
University officials have finally showed some contrition in light of the controversy. “Columbia failed these survivors, and for that we are deeply sorry,” President Minouche Shafik and the medical center said in a statement.
Columbia has previously paid out $236.5 million after civil lawsuits. This has led some legal experts to speculate that the $100 million survivors’ settlement fund may be too low.
Liability For Physician Sexual Abuse
Physician sexual abuse is far more common than many people may realize. In many situations, perpetrators are never disciplined and allowed to keep practicing medicine. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “After analyzing more than 100,000 medical board documents, the AJC found that more than 3,100 doctors had faced public accusations of sexual misconduct from 1999 to 2015. The investigation also revealed a broken regulatory system that too often shielded doctors from accountability.” There are many steps that hospitals should take in order to protect patients from sexual abuse.
- Hospitals should thoroughly monitor all of the doctors and employees in their care.
- Hospitals may require third party employees to be present during sensitive examinations.
- Hospital should understand the factors that lead to sexual victimization and predation.
- Hospitals should thoroughly investigate all suspected instances of sexual abuse.
Depending on the facts of any case, a hospital could face civil liability if one of their doctors sexually abuses a patient. Hospitals have a legal responsibility to protect patients from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. This includes sexual abuse at the hands of third parties and doctors. For the most part, sexual abuse claims against hospitals are typically advanced on the legal theory that a doctor was negligently hired or supervised. There are multiple elements that must be demonstrated in such a claim.
- The doctor involved was unfit for their job.
- The doctor’s employer knew (or should have known) that they posed a substantial risk of harm to patients.
- The doctor’s unfitness is what caused harm to their patients.
- The hospital’s negligent hiring, supervision or training was a significant factor in causing a patient’s harm.
Sexual abuse can have a lasting and profound impact on victims. They are much more likely to develop chronic illnesses and engage in substance abuse. It is also common for them to be at heightened risk of self-harm. Sexual abuse within the healthcare system is highly preventable when the right safety procedures are being followed. Any person that is sexually abused by a New York physician may have legal recourse through a civil claim.
Getting Legal Help After Columbia University Irvine Medical Center Sexual Abuse
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our best wishes to all of the people who have been harmed by the actions of Dr. Robert Hadden. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent this from ever happening again. There needs to be a thorough investigation into all of the actions that enabled this abuse to go on for so long.
Have you or someone that you care about been harmed by Dr. Robert Hadden? Our team of sexual abuse attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that abuse victims are aware of their rights and that hospitals and doctors are held accountable for their actions. Whether you just have legal questions or are thinking about hiring an attorney we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (516) 908-9792.