The University of Minnesota has paid $162,500 to settle its portion of a lawsuit by a patient who reported being sexually assaulted by a doctor at the U Medical Center in Minneapolis.
The settlement went to a female patient in her 50s who said Dr. Emad Arzrumly groped her in 2019 while she was under the influence of painkillers and awaiting dialysis in an inpatient bed at the hospital.
A jury acquitted Arzrumly on one charge and a judge tossed out a second in a criminal case last year that featured conflicting testimony over whether the sexual contact was consensual.
Any such contact, regardless of consent, is considered a violation of medical ethics by the American Medical Association and grounds for disciplinary action under Minnesota's Medical Practice Act because a doctor has coercive power over a patient.
Besides the sexual contact, the patient alleged in her lawsuit that Arzrumly asked to photograph her breasts and that she "reluctantly" consented "in order to get him to stop and leave."
Arzrumly, now 39, was a nephrology fellow at the time of the incident but was dismissed by the university in May 2020. His temporary license as a medical resident in Minnesota lapsed a month later, and he is no longer practicing medicine in the state.
The U settlement in 2022 was disclosed under 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's 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 assaults.
The U Medical Center — the second-largest hospital in the state — has reported 10 such assaults since 2008, including one during the time in which this incident occurred. No other hospital has reported more than four in that timeframe.
Fairview is a large provider of adult inpatient mental health care, and the health system said in a statement that most incidents occurred in psychiatric units where one patient sexually assaulted another. Responses have included constant staff supervision in common areas and intervention if patients display impulsive behaviors. Training has been offered to staff and patients to seek help and report anything inappropriate.
Seven sexual assaults of patients were reported in Minnesota hospitals in the 12-month period ending in October 2021 — a record in the nearly 20-year history of the adverse event system. A record seven serious injuries of patients or staff members from physical assaults were reported that year as well.
Hospital leaders have warned that staffing shortages have contributed to the rising security problem, which includes more physical assaults on nurses and other caregivers.