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When patients attempt sexual touching

What are nurses’ responsibilities when patients attempt sexual touching?

Nurses are encouraged to review and follow their employer policies related to reporting patients’ attempts of sexual touching. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are accountable for establishing a safe work environment and minimizing real or potential risks to employees and patients alike. CNO encourages nurses to work collaboratively with their employers to appreciate real or potential threats, review relevant organizational policies, and if needed, develop policies and guidelines that are specific to the practice setting and driven by safety.

With respect to the scenario in this question, nurses should tell the patient it is inappropriate to touch them in a sexual way. Nurses should document the interaction and ensure their manager is aware.

Here are some guiding questions to consider as you reflect on this inquiry:

  • What does your organizational policy state about this?
  • Has your health care team experienced similar situations in the past?
  • If so, how was the situation managed?
  • How have other care delivery teams managed similar practice issues?
  • Have I consulted with my union (if applicable)?

 

Page last reviewed February 28, 2020