A Chicago doctor is charged with sexually abusing over 300 patients at multiple institutions in the area: grievance

In a staggering legal development, over 300 women have come forward alleging sexual abuse by a former Chicago-area gynecologist, Dr. Fabio Ortega, sparking outrage and raising serious concerns about institutional oversight. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of these women, accuses Ortega’s former employers, including the recently acquired Endeavor Health system, of concealing his alleged misconduct.

The comprehensive lawsuit, initiated this Monday, implicates Endeavor Health for its alleged complicity in enabling Ortega’s behavior, despite being aware of his sexual abuse and predatory actions towards vulnerable female patients. The claims trace back to Ortega’s tenure at NorthShore University HealthSystem, NorthShore Medical Group, and Swedish Covenant Hospital, spanning decades of reported abuse.

Ortega, whose career saw him exploiting his position of trust, is accused of systematically targeting and preying upon women, particularly those from underserved communities, pregnant women, and those unfamiliar with gynecological exams.

Allegations suggest he employed grooming tactics, conducted unnecessary and invasive examinations under the guise of medical necessity, and even manipulated medical records.

Victims’ accounts detail disturbing encounters, including one patient’s experience in 1992, where Ortega insisted on unnecessary full undress during exams, asked inappropriate questions regarding her sexual activities, and performed exams without medical justification.

Another horrifying allegation involves Ortega mutilating a 17-year-old girl post-birth in 1996, under the pretense of making her “tighter” for her husband, showcasing a blatant disregard for patient autonomy and well-being.

Despite these alarming behaviors being reported, the complaint outlines a systematic failure by Ortega’s employers to act appropriately. Instead of protecting patients and investigating the accusations, the institutions allegedly misled victims, downplayed the seriousness of their complaints, and failed to supervise Ortega adequately, allowing him to continue his practices unchecked.

The case reached a critical point in 2017 when a patient at Northshore’s Skokie clinic reported Ortega’s actions to the police, revealing that Northshore obstructed police investigations and delayed the handover of crucial medical records.

Ortega’s continued abuse during this period culminated in his arrest in September 2018 for sexually assaulting a patient just 12 hours postpartum, leading to his eventual guilty plea in 2021 to two counts of felony criminal sexual abuse.

Ortega’s conviction and subsequent three-year prison sentence, alongside the permanent revocation of his medical license, mark significant yet delayed justice for some of his victims. However, the lawsuit underscores a broader issue of systemic failures and the necessity for transparent, accountable health care practices to prevent such egregious violations of trust and professional ethics in the future.

This case serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of vigilance, advocacy, and structural reforms in the medical community to safeguard patients’ rights and ensure that those in positions of power cannot exploit their roles to the detriment of those they are sworn to protect.

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