What You should Know about Patient Sexual Harassment

By Amanda Mamalio, PTRP

Ignoring sexual harassment affects your work performance

Ignoring sexual harassment affects your work performance

You never expected that your own patient would make your fellow PT uncomfortable.

Maybe that PT was you.

It may not be in one incident. It might have been tiny but constant acts that make you dread his treatment time.

Or made your polite smile a little more forced.

Suddenly, you were thrust in a situation where you feel bewildered. Angry. Hurt. Confused. Why is he like that to you? Why you?

Then you suddenly feel at loss.

Your school taught you how to treat your patient right. But what should you do when the patient doesn’t treat you right?

How to handle sexual harassment is rarely taught to PT interns. Hell, even when I was a PT volunteer, no one informed me what to do if a run into that type of patient.

You’re not alone. A lot of PTs have been harassed before in many kinds of situations. The only thing they have in common was they did nothing about it.

It’s time we change that.

Before you proceed to what you should do, there are some things you have to know first about Patient Sexual Harassment to guide you.

“You’re making me uncomfortable”

Sexual harassment isn’t just physical contact. It can take on a form of lewd comments, personal questions and unwanted e-mails. Your level of discomfort at a patient’s actions is your final judge.

If you are planning to file a complaint for sexual harassment, you should specify from the two types of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid-pro-quo: In this type of sexual harassment, the offender threatens or bribes the victim to agree to his sexual demands.
  2. Hostile Work Environment: Most PTs encounter this type of harassment. A legitimate complaint is only filed when the offensive acts became a sustained pattern of behaviour, unless the act is severe or physical. This kind of harassment interferes with the PT’s performance.

In both cases, you are within your rights to take action.

You and What Army?

You may not know it, but you’ve got teeth to fight this war.

The Philippines’ Republic Act no. 7877 covers both professional PTs and interns. In a nutshell:

  • It is the employer’s responsibility to provide procedures on how to prevent and what to do when an employee was sexually harassed.
  • The employer can do this by informing at least a representative of PT interns or PT staff and volunteer on:
  1. How to deal with sexual harassment (can be in a form of training, too)
  2. Investigative procedures on sexual harassment
  3. Approved administrative actions that would be taken.
  • If the employer was informed, but did not do appropriate actions, he can be sued for the damage (physical, mental and emotional) caused by the patient on the PT.
  • The PT can sue the patient besides filing a complaint in the office.
  • The penalty for sexual harassment to be given is/are:
  1. 1-6 months of imprisonment
  2. A fine of Php10,000-20,000.00

Legally Equipped and Ready for Duty

Not a lot of PTs know about this. Even I didn’t know about this before and I’m now sharing it with you. Being updated with the latest trends in Physical Therapy is important. But it is also important to protect yourself.

And to protect your fellow PTs, particularly the interns.

I have heard a lot of PTs who have been sexually harassed by patients. But no one did a thing. The problem is they don’t know what to do.

It’s time we change that.

To find out the actions that you could take to deal with sexual harassment on the spot and after, follow me to the next blog post.

What was the most offensive you have heard from a patient?

 

 

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© PT Got Spunk 2014

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One thought on “What You should Know about Patient Sexual Harassment

  1. Pingback: What Grinds Your Gears as a Physical Therapist? | PT Got Spunk

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