Take action, or not?

  1. I'm currently struggling with a bit of a dilemma. There's a particular doctor (I work in the OR) who seems to think it's perfectly acceptable for him to walk up to various female nurses and kiss them. I'm not talking about the cheek-to-cheek air smooch some folks/cultures do as a matter of greeting. This is more of the lingering type that an intimate couple would engage in. I've witnessed this on two occasions so far, and each time, the nurse on the receiving end walked away with the squinched-up face of someone who's just eaten something that they've found to be disgusting.

    The first time I saw this, I asked my preceptor about it. She explained that this was par for the course with this particular person, and that he'd been known to do this for some time. She didn't have any answer as to why the behavior was put up with and noted that she'd also been a recipient of the rougue kiss.

    I saw it happen again the other day. This time, it was the nurse anesthetist that was assigned to the OR that I was working. The kiss took place in pre-op holding and when she turned around, she had the afore mentioned look on her face. I later asked her about it to see if it bothered her. She noted that she'd known the guy for a long time, and that he'd taken care of her kids. "So you don't mind?" I asked. To which she said "no." However, her body language, tone, and expression during her explanation indicated that it was more of an action she tolerates rather than one of any shared enthusiasm. (By the way, the times I've seen him do this have been right out in front of the nurse's station, surrounded by people and in some cases patients. Apparently, nobody has been bothered enough to say anything - at least not to my knowledge).

    So here's what's bugging me...

    During my previous career, such an action would be a firing offense. In fact, I have seen people given their walking papers for much, much less. Having been a corporate manager, I am sensitive to actions and behaviors that could be construed as something that creates a "hostile work environment." Standing by and watching this behavior goes against my instincts to do otherwise.

    On the other hand, the people this particular person is kissing (assaulting?) are adults and as such, are more than capable of stepping up to their own defense. While I feel that it would be a cop-out for me to use that fact as a reason for inaction, I don't want to usurp anyone's right to self-determination.

    Another concern is that as a new person in the field, I really don't have a good feeling for what sort of retaliation this particular doctor could bring against any nurse he might think had "narc'ed" on him. I'm not concerned for my own sake as I could return to my previous career. However, I obviously can't assume the same degree of freedom for my coworkers. So I don't want to be cavalier about taking any action.

    I don't know what sort of feedback I'm looking for here. I know the channels to work through should I choose to pursue the matter. I guess I'm just a bit stunned at the blatant nature of this guy's actions as well as the seeming reluctance (even general acceptance) the people on the receiving end seem to have regarding this guy's activity. The fact that he's so blatant about it coupled with the fact that it's right out in the open, in front of scads of witnesses, makes me wonder if I'm just being overly sensitive. If so many have been affected, and if so many have seen it and not sought to do anything about it, perhaps my impressions of the matter are skewed in some manner. Am I just missing something? (I'm also weirded out by this guy being an OB and showing such obvious ignorance of how it might be received.)

    Anyways, I was curious about whether anyone else has seen this sort of thing and what the repercussions were, if any, resulting from any complaint.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Calgon-take.me.away
    Under NO circumstance would I permit an MD, or any other male that I know only as an aquaintance to assult me in such a way. This totally steps over the boundries of "friendship" and this MD would certainly get a peice of my mind,,,then he would have to deal with my husband
  4. by   neneRN
    The way I see it, if the doc does something to you personally that you're uncomfortable with, then you need to tell him it makes you uncomfortable. If the action continues once you have told him that you are uncomfortable, then it is sexual harassment. If it doesn't occur after you have said that you are uncomfortable, then problem solved. If you don't feel that you can say this to the doctor, then you take it to your supervisor or HR, who can step in on your behalf. As far as him doing the same to other people, they need to do the same. However, it seems as if others tolerate it; this may give the doc the impression that it doesn't bother them. Maybe he doesn't realise that he's making staff uncomfortable; has anyone ever said anything to him?
  5. by   CaLLaCoDe
    Warning! Warning! Will Robinson!!!

    Call the Physician's Board immediately...inappropriate professionalism...and yucky!!!!

    http://www.citizen.org/hrg/forms/med...tion.cfm?sec=7
    Last edit by CaLLaCoDe on Feb 17, '07
  6. by   clee1
    In short; until it happens to you, it is nunya bidness.

    Your coworkers are all adults; they can halt this type of behavior in it's tracks if they so choose.
  7. by   Freedom42
    Quote from Works2xs
    On the other hand, the people this particular person is kissing (assaulting?) are adults and as such, are more than capable of stepping up to their own defense. While I feel that it would be a cop-out for me to use that fact as a reason for inaction, I don't want to usurp anyone's right to self-determination.

    Another concern is that as a new person in the field, I really don't have a good feeling for what sort of retaliation this particular doctor could bring against any nurse he might think had "narc'ed" on him. I'm not concerned for my own sake as I could return to my previous career. However, I obviously can't assume the same degree of freedom for my coworkers. So I don't want to be cavalier about taking any action.
    I'm with you: In my old line of work, that doc's actions would indeed have been grounds for termination, and the supervisor who failed to stop his behavior -- regardless of whether anyone complained -- would likely have been ushered out the door as well. Managers had to undergo training once a year on how to put a stop to this garbage. Is that not the case with nurse managers and other hospital administrators?

    As for the suggestion that what's going on is none of your business until the doc kisses you, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says otherwise: "The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct." If that doc's conduct makes you uncomfortable, you're affected.

    That said, it's never easy for a newbie to complain. I think you have to decide how much it bothers you before you run the risk of hurting yourself on a new job. But I'd sure be ready to tell him off in no uncertain terms when he heads in your direction.
  8. by   jill48
    Quote from clee1
    In short; until it happens to you, it is nunya bidness.

    Your coworkers are all adults; they can halt this type of behavior in it's tracks if they so choose.
    Someone needs to stand up for what is right. If he thinks he can kiss coworkers like this, what does he think he can do with his patients? :angryfire
  9. by   TazziRN
    Quote from clee1
    In short; until it happens to you, it is nunya bidness.

    Your coworkers are all adults; they can halt this type of behavior in it's tracks if they so choose.


    Wrong. If an action bothers someone in the vicinity, it is considered harassment as well.
  10. by   Simplepleasures
    Quote from clee1
    In short; until it happens to you, it is nunya bidness.

    Your coworkers are all adults; they can halt this type of behavior in it's tracks if they so choose.
    WHAAAATTTT?!!!
  11. by   Daytonite
    "Unofficially" I'd go to the medical staff office. I know you said you knew the channels to work through if you chose to pursue the matter, but my experience has been that people don't know the proper channels when it comes to doctors. Have a casual, but private conversation with the highest ranking position medical staff person in this office about this behavior that you have observed. These are not doctors, but specialized healthcare professionals who assist the medical staff with their administrative work. They know the bylaws and laws that the doctors have to follow as members of the medical staff. Ask what and if anything can be done and how to go about it. If anyone is aware that this guy is doing this, they will know. They will also know who to talk to about this and how to get the ball rolling on any complaint or disciplinary action that might need to be taken. There is a chief of surgery. It will depend on the attitude of the chief of surgery toward addressing this. Some chiefs have backbones and have no problem taking their doctor colleagues aside and telling them to cool it on this kind of behavior. Then, you have other types of chiefs who have no backbones and will shrug this kind of thing off until a big lawsuit comes along.
  12. by   Works2xs
    Quote from Freedom42
    But I'd sure be ready to tell him off in no uncertain terms when he heads in your direction.
    Well, I'm in that <6% of the nursing workforce that happens to be male. This guy hasn't shown any proclivity in that direction, so there'll likely be no opportunity for any direct confrontation. Which adds to my quandary...

    Thanks for your feedback!
  13. by   Works2xs
    Quote from Daytonite
    I know you said you knew the channels to work through if you chose to pursue the matter, but my experience has been that people don't know the proper channels when it comes to doctors.
    Good point, and good info. I'm in some definate need for spending a bit of shoe leather figuring who relates to whom and what political influences are at play in the workplace.

    Thanks.
  14. by   burn out
    As long as you stay in the situation and do nothing about nothing will change. Get ready and Pucker Up for your turn.

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