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Attempted sexual assault? Kind of?

Stress 101   (304 Views 4 Comments)
by Itsjess Itsjess (New) New Nurse

Itsjess specializes in Med-surg.

58 Profile Views; 1 Post

Hello everybody, this is my first time posting!


I’m in need of some venting and some helpful advice on something that happened recently.


So the other day I was taking care of a patient with advanced dementia. I had gotten in report that he had at one time thrown a chair aggressively. But to my knowledge they had started him on some psych meds and he hadn’t shown any tendencies since he had been admitted. Well let’s jump to yesterday. He was being a model patient, he let me do his assessment, meds, etc. The day was going fine. That was up until I was doing his wound dressing. 


So this dressing was on his chest and as I was changing it, the next thing I know he grabs the back of my head and at the same time pulls out his penis and attempts to push my head towards his penis. I thankfully was able to pull away and reprimanded him. At the time i was in shock and the rest of the day just tried to laugh it off. My manager was notified, security, etc. I was even asked if I wanted to press charges.


So now we get to today. With this just happening yesterday, I tried to brush it off. But as I was getting ready for work I was feeling extremely anxious. I continued to get ready for work because I didn’t have any days to call in. So I get to work, and they assign me the same patient! I tried to be calm and I let them know I would not be able to take the patient again. But after some others asking what happened and it not being switched with ease, the next thing I know I am in tears and having a panic attack running off the unit. Well needless to say I was sent home. 



So yep that’s pretty much where I’m at. I have to go to work on Monday and just don’t know if I can do it. I feel like this shouldn’t be a big deal and I don’t want to be missing work but irregardless of how I WANT to feel, I am having a very hard time with it. I feel anxious to go back and be up close to a patient. But then again I feel like nothing really happened so I don’t have the right to be upset or even miss any work. I’ve dealt with patients being verbally abusive/harrassing, and even a patient grabbing me by the waist before trying to grind on me, but this last time has gotten me overall very scared. I’ve only been a nurse for a year and a half and I really don’t know how to deal or handle this. 


So overall I feel so mixed and would love to hear any similar stories or comments. Thanks! 


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12 Followers; 3,690 Posts; 27,529 Profile Views


I wanted to reply even though I don't know the correct answer. I am sorry this happened to you.

I have to believe that a great many nurses have had to deal with this or very similar situations involving patients. I will answer about my personal feelings and thought-processes. If what I say helps you, great, and if it is not really useful you don't have to feel pressured to feel the way I do about it.

In situations such as advanced dementia, I consider the person's actions to be completely out of their control. Additionally, their actions may not even remotely represent the kind of person they were prior to being stricken with such a terrible, awful disease. I have met many patients and known some people personally whose families were all the more devastated by their LO's disease because the person's words and behaviors were so far from anything they had ever known the person to be. Just devastating.

That said, this is not something that others just need to "put up with." This patient's behavior should be discussed and care-planned so that you and others can feel safe while providing care and the patient's dignity can be maintained as much as possible.

In real time (in the moment) if these things happen (attempted or actual touching, grabbing, sexual innuendo, lewd gestures/faces) I firmly redirect. I may direct the individual's hands away from me and say "No." or "No touching." If possible I would leave and try again at a later time, with another staff member.

It would be perfectly fine to ask that staff members provide care in tandem at least until this situation is better-controlled. 

You did not do anything wrong. And your feelings are okay. Please reach out to your DON again for support (assuming this is a supportive individual). 

((Take care))

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laflaca has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN.

336 Posts; 8,452 Profile Views

Of course you're freaked out!  Even if HIS brain disease removes his inhibitions and changes his behavior, YOUR brain still processes this incident as a terrible threat to your safety.

This patient sounds like someone who needs two-person care, at a minimum until a geropsych consult and/or a care plan is in place to manage this behavior.  You're not overreacting.  He needs safety and dignity, and you do too. 

If you had a friend who was a bank teller, or a house cleaner, or a barber, or any other job, and their client with some altered mental status did something like this....would you tell your friend it was no big deal?  Why should nurses accept having their safety compromised at work? 


Edited by laflaca

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32 Posts; 1,099 Profile Views

You could submit request for psych treatment under workers compensation.  

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