When most people think of sexual harassment, they typically think of inappropriate touching along with lewd and lascivious remarks made at the workplace by their bosses or co-workers. However, those who work in the medical industry face a different threat–their own patients. According to a study conducted by the George Washington University School of Medicine, more than 80 percent of 900 surveyed physical therapists claim they have been sexually harassed by their own patients. Nearly half said they had been harassed within the past year. It is an alarming trend that has often gone unnoticed by most people.
The statistics go beyond just physical therapists. According to the journal Physical Therapy, American health care workers (doctors, nurses and technicians) are 16 times more likely to become the victim of sexual harassment than other types of occupations. One of the biggest reasons is many are not properly trained to handle these situations. Unlike most workplace situations, the harassment is not committed by a co-worker or someone the victim knows. In far too many cases, it is committed by a stranger. Consider these numbers:
Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. However, the overwhelming amount of victims tend to be female. In the George Washington University study, most of the harassment was inflicted on female health care workers by male patients. The patients tended to be those with mental impairments. But another noticeable factor was an experience. The majority of victims had less than five years of experience dealing directly with patients.
Among the most common complaints made by those who participated in the survey was the lack of training and guidelines for related to patient sexual harassment. While patient safety is always a priority, the welfare of healthcare professionals is often overlooked. Many others were frustrated by the lack of support from management to address and prevent these situations from happening. More emphasis needs to be made on educating patients about the proper doctor/patient etiquette.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is never acceptable. Whether it was committed by a supervisor, boss, coworker or even a customer or patient, all employees have basic rights to leave in a safe working environment. Over the years, the Los Angeles employment attorneys at JML Law have utilized an aggressive and comprehensive approach to protect the rights of each client and to always look out for their best interests. It is part of their commitment to placing each client in the best position to succeed. If you or someone you know has been the victim of unwanted sexual harassment in the workplace, contact the legal team at JML Law and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.