There is no question that the mere act of being accused of sexual assault could affect your career, your reputation, your personal life and even your freedom. As a result, you need to take steps to safeguard your medical or nursing license from accusations while you’re treating patients.
Taking for granted that you’ll simply “never have to worry about this issue” because you’re not the type of person who would ever harm another is not a sufficiently proactive approach to the risk you face. If even one patient suggests that you acted inappropriately and it becomes a “their word against yours” scenario, your career, social reputation, and even your freedom could all be legitimately threatened.
Making thoughtful choices is key
If you’re going to be alone with a patient, you need to consider what is going to happen if that patient accuses you of misconduct and you have nothing to defend yourself with beyond your word. Your office or facility needs to have protocols in place that both enhance patient safety and the safety of licensed professionals who need to be able to do their jobs without fear of unfounded reprisals.
Similarly, you need to be conscious of how patients are perceiving your actions. Say that you need to take a picture of the boundaries of a skin infection so that you can compare that image to an image of the infection’s progress on an hourly basis. If the infection is located in a sensitive area, the patient may wonder if you’re taking pictures to be used in some sort of illicit manner. Explaining the function of the pictures and how they will be stored, etc., can help you to both receive informed consent and to avoid liability.
By making thoughtful choices about the risk of allegations that you face while simply performing your job, you can better safeguard your career, well-being and freedom. Should you have any questions about what you should or shouldn’t be doing regarding this issue, never hesitate to seek legal guidance.