Cleveland Clinic Settles Rape Case with Gag Order
USA Today published an article last week stating that Cleveland Clinic settled a rape case against one of its physicians with a gag order, and the same physician allegedly went onto to rape another patient. Here is the article.
As many of you know, Sorry Works! recently released a study on gag orders. In that report, we drew parallels between the Harvey Weinstein scandal -- which included gag orders with his victims -- and how many med-mal cases are settled with gag orders. Now, here we have a major medical organization that apparently used its boiler plate NDA language (stuff used every day for medical errors) to silence a victim of rape. It worked, sorta, as the victim of the first rape refused to speak to the USA Today reporter citing the confidential settlement from her lawsuit! Unfortunately for Cleveland Clinic and the doctor, the second rape victim was a little more chatty as she waited too long to file a lawsuit. Moreover, the reporter was able to gleam information about the first victim's case from her lawsuit filed with the court. Pesky public documents!
I think we are at an inflection point with gag orders. I am hoping -- praying -- this ghastly story will encourage CEOs of hospitals and nursing homes to quickly visit with their attorneys and review the settlement documents that are given to patients and families. Boiler plate NDA language has got to go, and we have many ideas to help in our gag order report. So many hospitals and nursing homes are prioritizing patient safety these days in a very public manner, but, then, how can you give paperwork in private to an injured patient or grieving family that reads, "Take your money and shut up." It's not right...
I believe we also need to start getting serious about telling patients and families that gag orders are really not worth the paper they are printed on. Realistically speaking, what would Cleveland Clinic be able to do the first victim had she chosen to speak to the USA Today reporter? Suing her to recover settlement doctors would have been PR suicide. And any judge would laugh themselves silly before dismissing the case...
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
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