Accreditation

Q&A: Dealing with sexual harassment in healthcare

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, April 1, 2018

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Briefings on Accreditation and Quality.

Preventing it before it begins and taking action when it does

Sexual harassment always has been an issue in healthcare, and it’s not hard to find examples: a California surgeon who slapped a nurse’s rear every morning while saying “I’m horny”; a Denver nurse sent to prison for groping patients while they were sedated; a patient who pinned a nurse to a bed and ripped her clothes off. 

Ideally, everyone could go to work without having to worry about harassment and reprisal. But since this isn’t an ideal world, healthcare organizations must act. Kate Fenner, PhD, RN, is managing director of Compass Clinical Consulting, specializes in organizational optimization, performance improvement, and regulatory compliance. She spoke with BOAQ about how harassment allegations should be handled, preventive measures, and the need to take both seriously. 

BOAQ: Should facilities expect more surveyor focus on sexual harassment?

Fenner: The very public attention currently being paid makes it even more imperative that executives lead their organizations on this pressing issue. Prevention, detection, and remediation are the key components of a successful approach. Thoughtful leaders use all three to ensure a safe and productive care environment.

Regulators and surveyors (e.g., CMS and The Joint Commission) pay careful attention to the news and trends in public interest. Allegations of improper conduct such as that recently lodged against a physician then practicing at Cleveland Clinic pique regulator interest and focus attention.

The Joint Commission requires that its accredited facilities meet all applicable laws (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, for example, the recognition of sexual harassment as an infringement on civil rights for employees), and CMS is stringent about protecting patient rights (CMS Tag A-0145), including the right to receive care without harassment. Attention to a harassment-free environment is good business, good public relations, good regulatory management, and just plain the right thing to do.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Briefings on Accreditation and Quality.

Most Popular