What would you do?

Nurses General Nursing


I have been told something about another nurse and the pt who told me has asked me not to tell anyone on the ward until she is being discharged. This ' thing ' is of a sexual nature. Briefly the pt says she was touched inappropriatly by a male nurse. The pt was on pethadine and was quite zonked out. However she felt the male nurses hands quickly touch her breasts and they were also by her knickers as he rubbed her stomach. The pt felt very uncomfortable by this. The nurse also kissed the pt on the lips and said she was his best pt. I have spoken to her and said she needs to tell the unit manager ASAP But she is worried there will be problems when this nurse comes back on duty. She has made me promise I won't say nothing. I don't want to break confidentialty however this situation cannot go on unmentioned until discharge. After our discussion the pt said she will think about telling the ward manager when he comes back after the weekend. The other nurse is not due back for a week. He has also applied for a job in an ITU at another hospital where the pt's will be even more vulnerable to this totally inappropriate behaviour. Do I wait till monday and give the pt time to tell the ward manager? If she don't say something I will have to speak out. This is not the first incident of this nature by the same nurse. The pt will never forgive me for saying something as she says she needs to get better before she can deal with it. The pt may be going to theatre on monday and will be more vulnerable after this. Has anyboby else had to deal with a confidentiallity issue like this .

realnursealso/LPN, LPN

1 Article; 783 Posts

Specializes in Peds Homecare.

Gosh Lorriane...think I would tell someone. You can't have the patient going to surgery and then be less in control and have that other nurse come back. I don't really think you have any other options...do you? Don't really know what I would say to the patient about it...but she could ask for that nurse not to care for her any more. Sorry I couldn't come up with any better advice. Good luck...and let us know what you decided to do.


365 Posts

If you know that this nurse has done this before, then as a nurse, who's job it is to protect your patient, you must tell someone ASAP. What if his actions don't stop here? What if he decided since he's gotten away with this, maybe a little sex would be fun too. This is a terrible thought but we all know there are very sick people in this world that prey on the helpless and I cannot think of a more helpless person than someone hospitlaized. Talk to her and tell her how strongly you feel in her need to tell this to someone in authority that can stop this behavior before someone gets hurt. Offer to be there with her when she speaks up, not only for herself but others as well. His behavior is not to be tolerated and must be stopped. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that this person could do this and I for one would like to see him loose his license, he is not a nurse, HE IS A SNAKE!!!!


100 Posts


It is your responsibility to report this to your administration. The ramifications of not reporting this are tremendous.

Your patients will suffer (if it is true)and it will happen again.

Your facility will be in legal jeopardy as well as you if this is not investigated.

Please do not waste another moment reporting this to the proper authorities.

Don't forget, it may turn out to be not quite as it appears.

Be strong and advocate for your patients.



If you enjoy word puzzles come visit me at www.CrosswordsForNurses.com

[This message has been edited by puzzler (edited February 05, 2001).]

prmenrs, RN

4,565 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control.

There are no options here! You MUST go to management and tell them what was reported to you by the pt. You do not need to involve the pt. any further. It is up to management to take it from there.

I do not know how things go in England; in the US, the employee, AND EVERYONE ELSE who knew about such a violation of human rights, would be liable from here to kingdom-come if they did not report it and if the facility did not take appropriate action.

If you think management will question the pt further, she should be warned, but she should stick with her story, and you should document everything that was told to you and/or you observed.

As nurses, it is our legal and moral obligation to safeguard our pts. I really don't see any other course of action.

What happens if you don't? He keeps on doing what he did to her, and continues to sexually abuse pts. There have been instances where a developmentally disabled young female pt. in an LTC/rehab facility has gotten pregnant! I doubt that such an episode was the first offense. An anesthesiologist and a dentist (separate cases) have actually been convicted of oral copulation w/sedated or anesthetized pts. This is a criminal act in the US! He is committing assault and battery on the pt. Would you let him hit a pt?

I hope you'll let us know the outcome of such a sad thing!

[This message has been edited by prmenrs (edited February 06, 2001).]


51 Posts

You must report this immediately!! You are bound by your nurse practice act as well as hospital policy to report this. If your immediate manager does not think it important, than your security and risk management personnel would think it important! If the patient felt strongly enough about it to tell you, it may be a way for someone else to help her. Do it now!! Sexual predators are everywhere, I know becoause we had one in our area that showed up on crimewatchers and was reported two years later as the worst offender in healthcare arenas. Don't waste another minute


219 Posts

You must report what you have been told. However, the assumption here seems to be that the nurse in question is guilty. I am not familiar with the drug pethadine. But I am familiar with "zonked out" patients and the dreams that they believe are real. I have been accused of holding patients hostage and of stealing from them as well as all manner of other things. Report the patient's accusations, but do not assume they are true.


1,301 Posts

Hi Lorraine. Whew! What a situation. Whether this nurse is a predator or not, the situation, as other posters have written, needs to be reported immediately. I hope you have accurate documentation of this encounter. I agree with the posters who indicate that it is a legal matter. If for some reason, you are part of a deposition, you want to make sure you are on the right side of the law. In fact, in addition to reporting this incident, you may want to get some legal counsel. Best wishes.

km rn

96 Posts

I agree with the others you must report for the following 4 reasons:

a) Nursing standards of practice

b) Your employeer's p/p must outline your need to report any suspected abuse/neglect of patients;

c) your oblilagation to protect this patient or others from harm

d) your obligation to the male rn . We should not assume he is guilty - he should not be put in the situation of caring for this person again for his own protection.

Originally posted by km rn:

I agree with the others you must report for the following 4 reasons:

a) Nursing standards of practice

b) Your employeer's p/p must outline your need to report any suspected abuse/neglect of patients;

c) your oblilagation to protect this patient or others from harm

d) your obligation to the male rn . We should not assume he is guilty - he should not be put in the situation of caring for this person again for his own protection.


What a thoughtful point you make with "d".

If true, he must never come in contact with patients again.

If false, he and any other nurse for that matter should not care for this patient alone.

For the protection of rights of all involved and in consideration of what I believe to be an ethical duty that supercedes any standard or policy you must report this with the facts as near as can be established.

Lorraine bryan

16 Posts

Sorry it's taken a while to reply but I only have computer access when i'm on nights. Thank you all for your advice. The pt in question told the ward manager on the Monday everything that she told me, I phoned him earlier and told him so when he went to speak to her he did not let on he knew. He did not let on I broke her confidence. He gave her the chance to tell him herself. The nurse in question has been suspended on full pay while inquiries are carried out. He has attended a hearing already and he was advised to say by his union rep " no comment " which he did. I have had to write a statement about what was said to me and at some point I will be asked to attend a hearing myself. The pt went to theatre and has now been discharged. She was very greatful for my help she has told the same thing to the ward manager and has documented everything in a letter. The male nurses job in ITU has been put on hold, however I don't know if they know about this as yet. I sure they will as the ward manager was to write a reference for him before this happened. I will let you know the outcome. Personally I believe the pt. As I said it's not the first incident of this nature. He was also very touchy feely with all the nurses on the ward even after being told not to by the ward manager because we had complained. Any way thanks again I will keep you informed.


365 Posts

Lorraine, you did the right thing!!! You only reported what was said to you by a patient and that is always your priority. Now the facts will be studied and a decision will be made, based on the findings. Even when we aren't sure what to do, we must always put our patients first. God Bless you!!!

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