“…SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HEALTHCARE CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND, BY EXTENTION, PATIENT SAFETY…”

“Google engineers and other workers at the internet giant’s offices around the world walked off the job Thursday morning to protest its lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.
It is the latest expression of a backlash against many men’s mistreatment of female employees across the business landscape and in politics….” (A)

“The healthcare industry is not exempt from sexual harassment; in fact, over 50% of female nurses, physicians, and students report experiencing sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct, on the basis of gender, that affects a person’s ability to do his or her job (or complete studies), including unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and requests for sexual favors. Although most claims of sexual harassment are made by females, there have been increasing charges of sexual harassment of males.” (B)

“More than 3,000 employees at medical and surgical hospitals filed sexual harassment charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) between 1995 and 2016, reported BuzzFeed News.
The site highlighted more than 170,000 sexual harassment claims across multiple industries.
Other sectors of healthcare also faced sexual harassment claims, including nearly 2,000 in ambulatory healthcare services, more than 1,500 in nursing care facilities and more than 380 claims in physician offices…
The claims about sexual harassment in healthcare aren’t new. Last year, a JAMA study found nearly one-third of women in academic medical faculties reported having experienced workplace sexual harassment. In that report, women also perceived and experienced more gender bias than men.” (C)

“Some of the incidents of harassment that physicians, nurses, and PAs described were rather extreme. A couple described physical assault—someone grabbing their breast. In one case, another physician held a female physician while he fondled himself. Some physicians say they were offered a promotion in exchange for sex and were threatened if they didn’t comply. Many nurses reported aggressive and distressing sexual behavior from physicians and also colleagues. Do you find it surprising that healthcare professionals would do things like this, especially at their place of work?” (D)

“In his Health Law column, Francis J. Serbaroli discusses the long and unfortunate history of sexual harassment in the health care workplace. Given the recent spate of high-profile career-ending sexual harassment charges, he urges all health care employers to have comprehensive policies and procedures for handling complaints, to educate everyone in the organization about sexual harassment, and to promote a culture of respect for all employees.
In recent months, many prominent persons have had career-ending allegations of sexual harassment brought against them. Those accused in these high-profile cases have come from media and entertainment, education, sports, government, finance, the arts, and other areas. The organizations with whom they were affiliated are scrambling to investigate these allegations, to do damage control, and to implement new policies and processes to demonstrate their zero-tolerance for such harassment. Questions are being raised as to whether the leadership of these organizations and their governing boards knew about the harassment, and if so, why appropriate action was not taken to stop it and prevent its recurrence.” (E)

““Like other aspects of a dysfunctional work culture, sexual harassment in healthcare can adversely affect employee health and, by extension, patient safety…
… there is every reason for an emphasis on training workers and implementing sexual harassment prevention programs in healthcare. The continuing revelations about nationally known figures exposed by the #MeToo movement is adding further impetus. Given the available data and anecdotal reports, it appears that a similar movement in medicine would generate a substantial number of personal accounts of sexual harassment. If nothing else, this is a teachable moment.
Though nurses have power in numbers as the predominant workforce in healthcare, they have long experienced sexual harassment from both colleagues and patients. A contributing social factor is thought to be the “sexy nurse” stereotype in pop culture and annual Halloween costumes. The author of an article on the issue concluded by urging nurses to “stop the line” and point out the behavior when it occurs.
“Report any incidents of harassment that you see occur or experience yourself,” the author concluded. “Involve your supervisors and peers in reporting. Empower all professionals to be able to say without fear, ‘No! This behavior isn’t okay,’ or ‘I feel uncomfortable with this conversation.’”…
Supervisors also can be found liable if they don’t step in when they become aware of harassment, as there is a responsibility and accountability in the hierarchy of the workplace…” (F)

“Many factors make an organization prone to sexual harassment: a hierarchical structure, a male-dominated environment, and a climate that tolerates transgressions — particularly when they are committed by those with power. Medicine has all three of these elements. And academic medicine, compared to other scientific fields, has the highest incidence of gender and sexual harassment. Thirty to seventy percent of female physicians and as many as half of female medical students report being sexually harassed…
The efforts of many healthcare organizations and medical centers tend to go little further than avoiding litigation. This needs to change. We propose a number of actions institutions must take to eliminate sexual harassment and create a safe environment that allows everyone in the health care workforce to do their best work on behalf of their patients.
Quantitative and qualitative assessment. The first step is for healthcare organizations to commit to understanding the problem. They must thoroughly and repeatedly measure the nature, prevalence, and severity of harassment and discrimination. Since this is unlikely to happen spontaneously, boards of directors and trustees should require open reporting of aggregate data, forums where employees can share ideas on how to reduce or eliminate harassment, and tying compensation of executives, deans, and chairs to outcomes…” (G)

“But the ultimate goal should be preventing harassment before it occurs. Physicians’ Practice offers three recommendations:
In meetings, make sure there’s a witness who’s the same gender as the employee. This is especially important in cases where a reprimand, discipline or termination is involved.
When possible, have a woman in the room (e.g., a nurse or medical assistant) if a male doctor is performing an exam, and vice versa. Patients may feel more comfortable if someone else is in the room, especially if the exam or treatment involves breasts or genitals. And if possible, if a patient requests a provider of a specific gender, honor that request.
Create a positive, harassment-free culture. Pay attention to comments being made in the cafeteria or break rooms, and call out employees who may be making others feel uncomfortable. If suggestive or inappropriate comments are being made, shut them down, and make it clear to others they should feel empowered to do the same.
Training employees about how to recognize sexism and sexual harassment when it occurs can also go a long way toward preventing upsetting incidents. Inappropriate jokes or conversations about sex might make others feel uncomfortable, even if that’s not the intent.” (H)

“When it comes to reporting, organizations should provide multiple avenues for those who believe they’ve been subjected to sexually harassing behavior, at least one of which is anonymous, according to Eaton.
One area of training that’s often neglected is bystander training — teaching employees who may not experience sexual harassment but witness someone else being harassed how to respond and whom to tell.
“Effective and interactive training in sexual harassment should be given to supervisors and support staff alike, including training on how bystanders may intervene when witnessing such behavior,” Eaton says. In healthcare, it’s also important to address how to respond to unwanted patient behaviors, he adds.
Healthcare workplaces need to demonstrate zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
It should be part of an organization’s culture that certain behaviors are not acceptable, according to Ballard. Senior leaders need to model acceptable behavior to create a safe and healthy workplace environment, he added.
With sexual harassment on the national radar right now, it seems a good time for organizations to revisit their policies and procedures around handling complaints and ramp up trainings to prevent abuse.
“I think we are seeing a national catharsis,” Quick wrote. “Everyone has known it’s there. Now it’s on the table and I am optimistic that we will make progress, but not straight-line linear [progress]. There will be setbacks and challenges, but this appears an inflection point.”” (I)

“What made Weinstein’s behavior so reprehensible is the aspect of the power differential associated with his actions. The women he targeted were struggling actresses who knew that success in Hollywood often comes from a lucky break and impressing powerful producers, directors, company heads.
Nurses are often in similar situations when hospital administrators value doctors and surgeons more than nurses. In 2009, Janet Bianco, a nurse from Flushing Hospital in New York was awarded $15 million after being sexually harassed by Dr. Matthew Miller for years that ultimately led to two violent attacks in 2001.
Despite complaining to her supervisors, no action was taken, even though the doctor was previously sanctioned by the state medical board for what they called, “moral unfitness to practice medicine.”
What is most disturbing about the Weinstein case is that for decades, everyone knew about it, but no one did anything about it. The same was true for Nurse Bianco. In fact, the harassing doctor tried to force his tongue down her throat as the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Peter Barra looked on.
Nurses who are sexually harassed at work face frustration, emotional consequences, and professional setbacks. Many leave the field altogether. That’s why it’s important that all of us watch out for each other, report inappropriate behavior, and make our hospitals safer places to work.” (J)

“The medical field, like popular culture, reinforces the physician-as-hero trope. Having answered their “life’s calling,” physicians are trustworthy, objective, selfless — even godlike. Doctors certainly do not rape, assault, or molest their patients.
But they do. The harrowing experiences of several hundred gymnasts who exposed Dr. Larry Nassar’s history of molestation under the guise of medical treatment demonstrates how he was able to sexually assault these young women because he was a doctor — using his trusted position and the safe confines of a doctor’s exam room.
Other doctors enabled Nassar’s predatory behavior. There was Dr. Gary Stollak, a clinical psychologist who heard about Nassar’s abuse from a former victim 14 years ago but did not report it; Dr. William Strampel, dean of the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, who imposed protocols for Nassar — including wearing gloves and having a chaperone for sensitive exams — but failed to enforce them; and Dr. Brooke Lemmen, who resigned from Michigan State after failing to tell the university that Nassar had informed her he was under investigation by USA Gymnastics…
We must confront the culture of medicine that dissuades physicians from reporting our colleague’s “bad behavior,” including conduct much less egregious than sexual assault. We must also advocate for independence in systems that hold physicians accountable.
At the same time, we must be respectful of survivors of sexual assault by strengthening our training around caring for them and ensuring that they feel comfortable seeking care in an environment that may have previously betrayed their trust. …”(K)

“A…Perspective by Victor J. Dzau, MD, of the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, and Paula A. Johnson, MD, of Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, called upon medical leadership to help institute these changes, including:
Aligning and embedding the values of diversity, inclusion, and respect into institutional policies
Reducing hierarchical power structures
Providing alternative reporting options
Protecting victims from retaliation
Ensuring transparency and accountability in institutional investigations”
“Sexual harassment in academic medicine is a symptom of systematic failures that prevent the medical workforce from operating at its fullest potential,” Dzau and Johnson wrote. “As leaders, we ignore this problem at our peril.”” (L)

(A) Google Walkout: Employees Protest Over Sexual Harassment Scandals, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/local/google-walkout-employees-protest-over-sexual-harassment-scandals/ar-BBPeGMb
(B) Sexual Harassment in Healthcare, WWW.RN.ORG, www.rn.org/courses/coursematerial-236.pdf
(C) Data shows breadth of sexual harassment in healthcare, by Les Masterson, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/data-shows-breadth-of-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare/512434/
(D) Sexual Harassment in Healthcare: Doctors and Nurses, by Leslie Kane and Susan Strauss, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/898027_2
(E) Sexual Harassment in the Health Care Workplace, by Sexual Harassment in the Health Care Workplace, by Francis J. Serbaroli, https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2018/01/22/sexual-harassment-in-the-health-care-workplace/
(F) #MeToo in Medicine? Sexual Harassment in Healthcare, by Gary Evans, https://www.reliasmedia.com/articles/142185-metoo-in-medicine-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare
(G) Sexual Harassment Is Rampant in Health Care. Here’s How to Stop It, by Jane van Dis, Laura Stadum, Esther Choo, https://hbr.org/2018/11/sexual-harassment-is-rampant-in-health-care-heres-how-to-stop-it
(H) Is there a Weinstein in your hospital? Dealing with sexual harassment, Kelsy Ketchum, http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/sexual-harassment/
(I) Health industry not immune to workplace sexual harassment, by Meg Bryant, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/from-med-school-to-practice-sexual-harassment-in-healthcare/515061/
(J) Sexual Harassment In Nursing – It’s More Common Than You Think, https://nurse.org/articles/harvey-weinstein-and-harassment-against-nurses/
(K) Larry Nassar isn’t the only doctor accused of molesting patients. We need to do more to stop it, by Altaf Saadi, https://www.statnews.com/2018/02/05/larry-nassar-doctors-sexual-assault/
(L) Treat Sexual Harassment in Medicine on a Systemic Level, by Molly Walker, https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/medicaleducation/75064

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