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Woman accuses Orange hospital worker of sexual assault

Police say the woman was being treated in the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital on March 8 when a patient care technician allegedly assaulted her. Hospital officials contacted authorities. The incident is under investigation.

March 16, 2011|By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times

A female patient has alleged she was sexually assaulted by a hospital worker while she was seeking treatment in the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, according to police.

The incident allegedly occurred March 8. The next day, the woman told hospital officials that a patient care technician had assaulted her. Officials then reported the incident to police, who have not yet interviewed the employee, a department spokesman said.

Orange Police Sgt. Dan Adams said that a patrol officer took reports from the hospital and the patient and filed the paperwork Thursday. But the detective bureau is generally closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday unless there is a major case like a murder, he said, and on Monday all of the department's detectives were investigating a homicide.

"The timeline is very normal for an investigation like this," Adams said.

Adams said the patient first reported the incident to hospital officials, who contacted the department.

Hospital officials refused to provide details of the alleged attack, saying they needed to "respect the rights and privacy of everyone involved in this situation."

"St. Joseph Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality of care, safety and support to our patients," the hospital said in a statement, adding that officials are "fully cooperating" with the police investigation.

An official with the state Department of Public Health said the agency also has opened an investigation but declined to provide further details.

Violence in hospitals has become an increasing concern among nurses and other hospital workers, although it is far more common for victims to be hospital staff rather than patients.

Next week, the state Assembly will hold hearings on a proposed law backed by the California Nurse's Assn. that would improve security procedures at hospitals.

jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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