University of Minnesota settles case acquitted of sexually assaulting doctor

The University of Minnesota paid $162,500 to settle a lawsuit that a patient was sexually assaulted by a doctor at U of Minneapolis Medical Center.

The settlement was given to a female patient in her 50s, said doctors. Emad Arzrumly had her groped in 2019, while she was taking painkillers and waiting for dialysis in an inpatient hospital bed.

A jury found Arzrumly not guilty on one charge, and a judge dismissed another in a criminal case last year that included conflicting testimony about whether the sexual encounter was consensual.

Any such contact, whether consensual or not, is considered a violation of medical ethics by the American Medical Association and is subject to disciplinary action under the Minnesota Medical Practice Act, since doctors have coercive power over patients.

In addition to the sexual encounters, the patient said in her lawsuit that Arzrumly asked to have her breasts photographed, which she “reluctantly” agreed to “in order to get him to stop and leave.”

Arzrumly, 39, was a nephrology researcher at the time of the incident but was fired from the university in May 2020. His temporary residency license in Minnesota expired after a month, and he no longer practiced medicine in the state.

The 2022 U settlement was disclosed pursuant to a public records request. Fairview Health, which operates the medical center in partnership with the university, also reached an undisclosed settlement in the civil case, which is now listed as closed.

It was unclear whether the incident prompted a report to Minnesota’s adverse event system, which requires hospitals to disclose 29 different types of preventable errors — including sexual assault.

U Medical Center — the state’s second-largest hospital — has reported 10 such attacks since 2008, including one during the incident. No other hospital reported more than four during that time period.

Fairview, a provider of large adult inpatient mental health services, the health system said in a statement that most of the incidents occurred at the psychiatric facility in which one patient sexually assaulted another. Responses include continuous staff supervision in common areas and intervention when patients display impulsive behaviour. Training has been provided to staff and patients to seek help and report any misconduct.

During the 12-month period ending in October 2021, Minnesota hospitals reported seven incidents of sexual assault on patients — the most in the nearly 20-year history of the adverse event system. That same year, a record seven patients or staff were seriously injured as a result of physical assault.

Hospital leaders have warned that staffing shortages have led to growing safety concerns, including more physical attacks on nurses and other caregivers.

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