Is it Sexual Harassment?

It certainly has been several days since I have updated this blog, and part of the reason has been because my mum came to visit me, so I spent a lot of time with her, and spent less on my blog.

Anyway, a few days ago, I think I might have been sexually assaulted. Ok, maybe that’s an overstatement, but the patient’s actions were certainly inappropriate, and if I were a female and it happened, I could probably claim sexual harrassment. 

So, I was looking after this friendly Italian man. He seemed quite nice, talked about watching Swan Lake, and commented on how I had the gait and grace of a ballet dancer.This should have alerted me at the beginning about something, but when you’re too busy focussed on the patient’s presenting complaints and illnesses, your mind focuses on the illness and the problems.

After chatting to one of the senior doctors about the presentation, the senior doctor saw the patient with me, and explained that everything was alright, that the patient likely had early stages of osteoarthritis of the knee. He was ok to go home. After explaining that, the patient thanked the senior doctor, and then thanked me, slapping me on the butt! Granted, he was lying down on bed, and I was standing beside him. I completely didn’t see that coming.

At such a point, I didn’t know how to react, but I just shrugged it off in a way. But it was a little disturbing to know I got sexually harassed. I’m a guy however so…… am I supposed to just shrug it off and just pretend that nothing happened? It hasn’t distressed me or anything, but I’m just curious as to what would have been an appropriate response to such an action? I mean, do I tell the man it’s inappropriate, or do I ignore it?

Because in society, it’s perceived that a guy doesn’t and can’t get sexually harassed right, because that just doesn’t happen to guys right?




3 thoughts on “Is it Sexual Harassment?

  1. I have this sort of thing happen periodically. As a female physician, I tend to shrug it off if the following criteria are met: it is a patient that is elderly and possibly demented, it is the first offense, and it is not egregious. Your situation was egregious. In that case I tell the offending person (male or female) that their behavior should not be repeated in the future. No explanations and no “I am flattered but…” That generally clears everything up quickly. If it does not, however, that patient needs to be passed off to someone else. And best to expect it will happen again at some point. The world is full of interesting people and all if them need medical care at some point.


    1. Great words of wisdom Victo! I felt like I ought to have said something, and next time it happens, I will say something. And I’m sure being a female physician can subject you to all sorts of inappropriate behaviour, whether it be physical or verbal.


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