touched inappropriately by patient

  1. I suppose this has happened to almost everyone at some time or another, but one of my male patients grabbed my breast tonight--after he did his best to crush my fingers on testing his grip strength.

    If another nurse told me this happened to her I would be furious. Oddly, upon having it happen to me I feel some anger but mostly I feel belittled, degraded and made to feel powerless, which I'm sure was the point. This patient had just arrived on our unit from PACU. The report from PACU was that he was being a jerk there and had been a jerk on the unit he was on prior to surgery but they hadn't had him do anything like this. This patient was totally uncooperative on my exam with the exception of the great glee he took in trying to crush my fingers and fling me while checking his upper extremity strength--even his wife told him not to hurt me after watching the spectacle he put on. After I asked him to logroll so I could see his surgical incision on his back he very deliberately reached out to me and grabbed my breast. I yelled at him and told him not to do that and my tech called security. Once security arrived on the floor he suddenly became cooperative and, as his family put it, was "coming around". He and his family were trying to convince us all he was "confused" from surgery.

    I know this is not a huge deal but I'm surprised how much it shook me up and made me feel vulnerable--and I'm 38 years old for cryin' out loud. I've only been a nurse a little over a year and this is the first time I've had anything like this happen. Anybody else feel this way if it's happened to you?
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   Soup Turtle
    That guy sounds really creepy. I'm sorry this happened to you.
  4. by   psalm
    If you haven't already, it is not too late to write up an incident report. Also, the report you got when pt. came from PACU that indicated pt. was A&O...if it is in writing somewhere, copy that and include that with incident report. DO NOT LET THIS GO. He seemed to "come around" once security got there, if he were really confused, he would have continued.

    Sorry you had to go thru that, but don't let it go!! Make sure ;your facility will back you up and protect you. And I would refuse to take him as a pt. again, should he be inpatient again. Hugs.
  5. by   happydays352
    Working with dementia pts this happens to me a lot! I usually tell the pt very firmly that I will not tolerate that kind of behavior and it's inappropriate. If there was no psych issue though I would probably feel so freaked out like you did. I'm sorry this happened to you, at least your not his wife. I would hate to think what her life is like having to live with that jerk.
  6. by   bill4745
    Remember, you have the right to press criminal charges against a AO3x pt. We do this in the ER. Some people think they can get away with anything if they are even slightly "out of it". It helps to have witnesses to the event, and who can verify that the pt was alert and oriented. Obviously, I hope you make exceptions for the truly demented and confused, but if this guy suddenly calmed down at the sight of security, he was aware that what he did was wrong.
    Don't ever allow a supervisor to talk you out of doing this-some try, they don't want the hospital to get a reputation for arresting pts. Protect yourself and your rights.
  7. by   leslymill
    I have had a few encounters with "DIRTY OLD MEN" in LTC Facilities. You are not gonna change them or their gropping. Be assured they are probably non-discriminatory and will grope any female that gets in arms length of them. All we could do is make the problem well known to all staff and make it a floor RULE not to enter the patients room alone. This can be frustrating for staff, but better than the after affects of the ASSULT.
  8. by   EmmaG
    Remember, you have the right to press criminal charges against a AO3x pt.

    Damn straight.
  9. by   CseMgr1
    The same thing happened to me many years ago, when I was an LPN working on a very busy Surgical floor of an area hospital. I was on my med cart during one 3-11 shift and entered the room of a patient who was under guard (I can't remember if he was a prison inmate or a psych patient). Anyway, I was standing by his bed with the pill cup in one hand and a glass of water in the other and getting ready to give him his meds, when he suddenly reached up with both hands and grabbed my breasts. I will NEVER forget the look in this man's eyes, as the guard jumped out of his chair and pulled him off of me. I don't remember if he ever got his meds, but do remember standing at the nurses' station a few moments later, shaking from head to toe and telling my Charge Nurse: "I am NOT going back in there!"

    They shipped him out the very next morning. :trout:
  10. by   nyapa
    Quote from newohiorn
    I know this is not a huge deal but I'm surprised how much it shook me up and made me feel vulnerable--and I'm 38 years old for cryin' out loud. I've only been a nurse a little over a year and this is the first time I've had anything like this happen. Anybody else feel this way if it's happened to you?
    It is a huge deal!!! If the man is in his right mind then he knows what he is doing, ergot he knows he is assaulting you inappropriately and that is illegal. What would happen if he did this to you on the street? I hope you recorded all this in his notes. Does your hospital have an aggression/abuse policy? Is your sister in charge aware of his behaviour?
  11. by   rita359
    Quote from bill4745
    Remember, you have the right to press criminal charges against a AO3x pt. We do this in the ER. Some people think they can get away with anything if they are even slightly "out of it". It helps to have witnesses to the event, and who can verify that the pt was alert and oriented. Obviously, I hope you make exceptions for the truly demented and confused, but if this guy suddenly calmed down at the sight of security, he was aware that what he did was wrong.
    Don't ever allow a supervisor to talk you out of doing this-some try, they don't want the hospital to get a reputation for arresting pts. Protect yourself and your rights.
    Criminal charges seems to be going a bit overboard unless this guy doesn't learn from his mistake. Having security show up is good. Incident report is good but probably won't be seen by nursing supervisors unless your hospital works different than mine. Make sure nursing managers at all levels are aware so that any nurse having future problems with pt doesn't get ignored and pt isn't allowed to continue this behavior. Changing his behavior is the goal.
  12. by   newohiorn
    Thanks for your responses. I considered an incident report but my charge nurse (male) didn't even ask me about the incident, although I know he knows it happened, and I felt like I would be making a federal case out of something that perhaps is fairly common. No one said anything to make me feel that way--just that no one said anything about a report either. I did chart it all. I don't think I would get very far with any report or charge because the patient continued to (in my opinion) pretend to be out of it while security and all his family were watching although he was cooperative at that point. I also noticed he knocked off the "I don't know anybody or where I am" behavior when his grandchild came in the room. Anyway, I'm just about 100% positive he was A&Ox3 but there's no way I could prove that because of his charade and all the witnesses.

    I do have a question for any males out there who read this. There were 2 male nurses working on the unit (small unit, only 25 rooms and 4 nurses working). Neither of the male nurses came down to the room to see what's going on or stick their head in or just plain make their presence known. I realize it is not your jobs to "be the guy" on the floor and do all the heavy lifting/security/etc., but it struck me as odd. Even when one of my other female nurses has trouble with a patient I usually stick my head in the room just to let the patient know the nurse is not alone and that someone else is watching. I don't think it's a personality problem because I get along well with both of these guys and had been helping both of them earlier in the evening. It almost seemed as if they avoided coming down to the room and I've seen similar reactions to trouble patients in the past. I'm wondering if a guy just wouldn't perceive this as a big enough deal to even bother or do they just want to avoid starting with any "protective" behavior so it doesn't become their "job"? Perhaps there is another explanation--just curious if anyone has any thoughts. Sorry so long.
  13. by   TazziRN
    If the charge didn't say anything to you it doesn't surprise me the two male nurses didn't. How the floor runs often depends on the person in charge, it filters down.

    You have every right to refuse him on your assignment again. I'd go ahead with the incident report and anything else you can do. Even confused pts know right from wrong, that is absolutely no excuse. Only some kind of dementia could excuse that. I would press charges, assault is assault. If you were grabbed by a staff member in the hallway you would press charges, right? And if he was a jerk in ICU I would be willing to bet this is not the first time he's done something like this.
  14. by   RN1989
    As you get more experience, you will learn that there are things that you can say to these patients that will get your point across very well that they had best not touch you or anyone else again. It just takes experience to learn who you can say things in a certain way to. Of course if they are confused then there isn't a lot to do but tell them "No" and treat them like children. But an aox3 person - no way they will do it again when you let them know how inappropriate the behavior is. You also need to be working on your ugly, angry mother look - works really well if you have glasses that you can look over the top of.

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