Nurses sexually harassed by patients


Category : General, Medical Rants

Nurses face sexual harassment from patients

Nurse Sarah Andres is so used to male patients calling her “sweetie” or “cutie” — or even asking her for a kiss — that it rarely upsets her anymore.

“I usually chalk it up to they don’t feel good, a lot of them are confused,” said Andres, who has been a nurse in St. Louis, Missouri, for five years and works in the critical care unit at St. Mary’s Health Center. “I never really thought of it as sexual harassment.”

But nursing organizations say such treatment is common, and it is definitely sexual harassment.

We all have seen this. Female physicians have almost all experienced it. This is not just a nursing issue. Female MDs, physical therapies, dieticians – the list could go on.

Many men in our culture have no clue about appropriate behavior. Most patients who say these things are just clueless – but some live within a subculture where such comments are routine and accepted.

I have no good answer for this problem and hope that some female readers will comment.

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Comments (5)

[…] Later: DB comments that it extends across the health care spectrum. He’s right, of course – some folks just never learned how to interact appropriately with the opposite gender. Or the same one, for that matter. […]

This is a fairly common occurance where I work; dealing with patients who’ve had chunks taken out of their brains means that a lot of ’em lack the social restraint the rest of us take for granted.

Stern and firm is my rule. I’ve only had one patient try to grab me; he stopped as soon as I told him, look, I’m going to get hurt if you keep pulling.

The funny thing is this: my facility routinely trains *interns* on what to do if *nurses* make passes at them (excuse me while I laugh uncontrollably for a few minutes), but they rarely train nurses on how to avoid or stop harrassment from patients or patients’ family members–which is about eight zillion times more common.

The root of the problem, I think, is the popular conception of nurses as passive, accomodating helpmates. Unless you’re dealing with interns, in which case nurses are rapacious, sex-crazed fiends.

This blog has hit on an age old sterotype that has some historical base which the media has perpetrated and nurses have struggled against. We are indeed seen as either mindless, thoughtless, ignorant, stupid (take your pick of descriptors)individuals that cannot think for ourselves and who need to be told what to do by doctors or we are indeed “rapacious, sex-crazed fiends who either are looking to marry a doctor or simply have an affair with one.

While just like any other grouping of human beings be that anthropologists, teachers, or zookeepers (not to offend any of these)…you could find people who fit the description of either stupid or sex-crazed. Therefore, to apply it just to nurses, is definitively unfounded, but none the less, part of our reputation.

Since this is a blog…I guess all I can do is vent that I find this just as frustrating and disgusting as other do. I am shocked by the last entry that described a training for interns on what to do about nurses that make passes at them, yet nothing to help nurses handle sexual harrassment…my gawd, if I were a nurse at that facility I would be outraged.

On a personal level, I conduct myself in a professional manner both in the clinical setting and in the community. I realize that people in the community who have seen me in the hospital setting have a certain expectation of me, therefore, I must conduct myself accordingly. My behavior in the community setting must reflect the image I desire the public to have of nurses. I do not tolerate sexual inappropriate behavior from patients, visitors, co-workers or physician staff…believe me it comes from all these sources. Being young looking, single and attractive makes it worse. While getting older has its down side, the decrease in harrassment has been a positive…ha ha.

I am in nursing school and definitly nurses aren’t stupid, the training in unending and you have to trully want to be a nurse to survive the schooling it takes to finish and pass boards. I have trouble at clinicals with patients saying harrassing things to me and I also blow the comments off, but I always firmly tell them no, and it seems that the patients say these things to get a reaction, when they get none (I’m not upset, or yell or anything like that) they usually stop.

Jeannette, I’m glad to see that at least one nurse in the world is not a crazy, sex-craved fiend. As a doctor’s wife, I have run into so many horrible situations where the nurses sit at the nurses station making obvious passes at my husband. They have a picture of him posted on their bulletin board with kisses on it. I even had one of the nurses, who my husband complained to me on a few occasions about her asking if he was happily married and if he would rub her inner thighs, page my husband last night to flirt. I would luv to report these women for sexual harrassment because if it were the other way around I’m sure that they would do the same to him but I respect and trust my hubby enough to let him handle it on his own.

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