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Patient’s first

While there are particular vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of patient sexual abuse, realistically all patients are vulnerable and can become victims. 

 Patients who were sexually abused by nurses feel:

  • Violated
  • Assaulted
  • Embarrassed
  • Vulnerable
  • Ashamed
  • Confused
  • Devastated

Health professionals are accountable for putting the needs of patients first. Safe patient care is the only goal of the nurse-patient relationship. It does not matter if the patient appears to consent to sexual activity with a nurse. Although a patient may perceive they are consenting, their vulnerable state, and the power dynamics between nurses and patients, means the patient is not in a position to consent.

Patients have the right to be treated in an ethical, competent and respectful manner at all times.

Download and print: Vulnerable patients fact sheet 

Page last reviewed March 02, 2020