Male caregiver vs. Female patient question.

  1. All:

    - Been reading several threads relating to the above topic, both on this
    discussion group and over on the student nurse group.

    - My concern is...what do you guys (males) do to protect yourself from
    the patient saying that you acted inappropriately.

    - I am starting clinicals in June, and am wondering what you do / I should
    do to protect myself from patients that would accuse one of inappropriate
    male caregiver / female patient conduct.

    Thanks,

    John Coxey
    •  
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Rustyhammer
    I think it's a rarity that this type of accusation would occur. Remember to handle your self professionally and I don't think problems will happen.
    The other side of the coin is female pts acting innappropriately to the male caregivers.
    -Russell
  4. by   Alnamvet
    Whenever I have to do pelvics, or suturing near the multiple "female parts", I ALWAYS have a female assistant with me; even the male docs know this is necessary!!
  5. by   RNPATL
    Quote from John Coxey
    All:

    - Been reading several threads relating to the above topic, both on this
    discussion group and over on the student nurse group.

    - My concern is...what do you guys (males) do to protect yourself from
    the patient saying that you acted inappropriately.

    - I am starting clinicals in June, and am wondering what you do / I should
    do to protect myself from patients that would accuse one of inappropriate
    male caregiver / female patient conduct.

    Thanks,

    John Coxey
    John - been a nurse that is male for a long time. I have never had a situation where a female patient has c/o that I acted inapproriately with her. As the other poster has said, maintain your professional behavior and remain objective and focused in your care. If you are performing procedures that are invasive (catheter, enema, prepping for surgery, etc) ... ask a female staff member (i.e. another nurse or aide) to be in attendance with you.

    For many years physician's (males) have practiced like this. I often question why men in nursing are so concerned about this when physicians have been caring for women over the centuries. I guess it is because the role of nurse as nurturer has been female and this is a new avenue for men. Not really sure, but it has not been a problem for me.

    On the other hand, I have had situations where female patients have acted inappropriate to me. In most cases, the actions are harmless, but if it makes you nervous, you can always ask to be re-assigned. Again, I have never had to do this, but that option is available.
  6. by   SnowymtnRN
    My DH always has a female co-worker in the room for any type of invasive procedure or one that could bring cause for "concern" later. Its just a protective measure on his part.
  7. by   Dayray
    I just posted this in another thread so ill paste it here.

    I have to admit the fear of such accusations has worried me too. However you have to just accept that it is a danger. Be careful what you say and do with patients make sure to always explain what and why you do things. Don't hesitate to ask you patient if they are okay or if they want you to stop what you are doing.

    Nursing staff is given a great deal of trust and as such there is potential for abuse of this trust. Make sure your patient knows you care about them and are interested in there well being. I think that allot of the false accusations are made because people don't take the time to pay attention to the patients feelings. There is a desire to get uncomfortable things over with quickly and in that haste it is possible to make a patient feel abused.

    Also think about what you are doing while you do it. Make sure that the things you do are completely in line with what any other caregiver would do. Always do things the same way. If you ever had to defend your actions in court make sure that there aren't aspects of your care that would cause them to be questioned.

    I sometimes ask for a coworker to come in the room with me. I don't always ask, just when I think it's necessary.

    You have to keep it in your mind that you are at risk for such accusations but not allow it to paralyze you or stop you from doing your job. Always talk with your patients.
    I work L&D so always asking for a female chaperon would severely hamper my job performance. The reason male doctors ask for a female escort is that was passed as a law several years back. Before that some would ask and others would not. Also it doesn't have to be a female escort, although I can see how that might be more useful.

    I sometimes ask for an escort (rarely) when I get strange vibes from the patient. I have also asked to be reassigned when I feel that things aren't geling between the patient and I (again rarely).

    Always remember that abuse is anything that makes a patient feel abused. even if it is a routine procedure a patient can feel abused if they don't understand or feel that it was forced on them.

    As for other things that can be done, I am convinced that communication is the key to this. You must communicate professionalism, the necessity of the procedure and above all that your intentions are pure. It's your job to make sure that they understand and consent to the procedure. You don't have to make a huge production out of consent but make sure they understand and that they consent. If you sense that the patient is hesitant ask them about it, don't suggest that it is your gender making them uncomfortable but if they bring it up discuss it with them and then offer to reassign them.

    So the main thing is make sure your patient does'nt feel that they have been abuse. second is to protect yourself if you were called into court.

    If you were ever called into court they are going to examine 2 things:

    Consent: they are going to make sure the patient didn't feel pushed into the procedure.

    The way the procedure was done: make sure that the things you do are the same that any other prudent nurse would do.

    If you pay attention to those 2 things a lawyer won't have any ammunition to throw at you. Unless of course they lie. All you can do about that is to build a strong nurse patient relationship with your patient so that they don't want to lie about you.

    It's not uncommon that patients make inappropriate comments during things like this. It's important that you let the patient know it's inappropriate without embarrassing them. Many times I do this by playing dumb, pretending I misunderstood the comment as something else (even though we both know I really understood).

    One of things that makes this hard is your own discomfort with the situation. Before you get used to it, it's just kind of strange to be doing these things and it makes you feel awkward. To get past this focus on the patient. Set aside your own feelings and concentrate on what the patient is feeling.

    I've been working L&D and post partum for over 2 years now and have never had an acusation. I hope that I never will but accept the possiblity as a risk of the work I do. I think if I did ever have to go to court the things I listed above would protect me but of course who knows?...
    Last edit by Dayray on Feb 22, '04

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