NewYork-Presbyterian sued after gastroenterologist allegedly assaulted patient 

New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian was named in a civil lawsuit that alleges Zhi Alan Cheng, MD, a gastroenterologist who previously practiced at the health system's Flushing, N.Y., location, drugged and sexually assaulted a patient. 

Dr. Cheng was employed by NewYork-Presbyterian between July 2020 and December 2022. According to a complaint filed June 7, a 19-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency room with gallstone-induced abdominal pain. On June 21, 2021, two days after she was admitted, Dr. Cheng allegedly examined the victim without other staff present, performing an invasive and unnecessary rectal examination under the guise of medical treatment, according to a June 6 news release from attorneys representing the patient.

The woman then allegedly informed hospital staff that an Asian male physician, the same physician who had seen her earlier that day, entered her room and gave her a painful injection that caused her to lose consciousness. The hospital staff conducted a lineup of male employees and the plaintiff identified Dr. Cheng, according to the complaint. 

The lawsuit accuses NewYork-Presbyterian of not making notes about the lineup in medical records, failing to notify police, and not suspending or terminating Dr. Cheng. The hospital is also accused of not collecting forensic evidence, failing to test the plaintiff's blood to determine what she was injected with, and failing to offer her sufficient and timely support services. 

Separately, in December 2022, a woman with whom Dr. Cheng had an intimate relationship allegedly found videos of him sedating and sexually assaulting her on several occasions. She notified authorities, and Dr. Cheng was arrested Dec. 27. Police then found videos of additional sexual assaults after searching his electronic devices, including the assault on the 19-year-old plaintiff in this case, according to the release. 

On Dec. 30, Dr. Cheng was indicted by a grand jury and charged with rape, assault, unlawful surveillance and sexual abuse, among other charges. The criminal case remains open and pending.

NewYork-Presbyterian told Becker's that Dr. Cheng was placed off duty, banned from hospital property and terminated as soon as the district attorney informed the health system of the allegations of sexual abuse against him. 

"The crimes committed by this individual are heinous, despicable and a fundamental betrayal of our mission and our patients' trust. We are appalled and deeply saddened by what these victims and their families have endured," NewYork-Presbyterian said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We have numerous stringent patient safety policies and protocols in place. Our exhaustive review of this matter included an analysis of compliance with those policies, as well as the immediate implementation of additional training for all employees. At the same time, we have been examining the full breadth of our protections to identify any opportunities for further strengthening, in line with our unwavering commitment to the highest standard of patient safety and care."

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