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Sexual Abuse in the Healthcare Industry

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

November 4 2019

When people think of abuse in the healthcare industry, they might only think of medical neglect or malpractice. Few ever consider the risk of sexual abuse—and unfortunately, it’s more common than anyone would like to think.

Physician’s Weekly reported that doctors are losing the public’s trust for a variety of reasons. Medical professionals are rewarded a certain amount of public trust. When that trust is broken in any way, it is difficult to regain. To protect your patients and facility’s reputation, it’s vital to know the information and warning signs behind abuse in the healthcare industry.

 

Sexual Misconduct and the Healthcare Industry

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution did an in-depth investigation into sexual assault and abuse in the healthcare industry and discovered 3,100 doctors who had been disciplined for sexual misconduct since 1999. One of the doctors who was investigated, despite being accused of misconduct at multiple facilities, still had his license.

If a medical professional is convicted and required to register as a sex offender, they are still allowed to practice in most states despite their sex offender status. 

doctors disciplined for sexual misconduct since 1999

%

of physical therapists experienced sexual harassment

This type of behavior often extends into workplace as well. A study published in journal Physical Therapy found that 80% of physical therapists had experienced sexual harassment, assault, and indecent exposure during their careers. A jury in California awarded almost $168 million to a former cardiac surgery physician’s assistant at Mercy General Hospital in her sexual harassment lawsuit. Her attorney stated that when she tried to report the inappropriate behavior, she was fired.

Prevention and Security: Training & Policy

Despite the prevalence of conversations surrounding sexual misconduct in the office, only 1 in 5 organizations have made an effort to discuss appropriate conduct or to facilitate training. In addition to the emotional repercussions for survivors of abuse, on average, unrecognized abusive behavior can cost a business $6.7 million.

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Unrecognized abusive behavior can cost a business $6.7 million.

Despite the prevalence of conversations surrounding sexual misconduct in the office, only 1 in 5 organizations have made an effort to discuss appropriate conduct or to facilitate training. In addition to the emotional repercussions for survivors of abuse, on average, unrecognized abusive behavior can cost a business $6.7 million.

With more people becoming aware of the potential for sexual abuse, healthcare facilities are working to mitigate their risk and protect their patients and employees. Adopting a clear and strictly enforced workplace harassment policy provides an avenue for employees to report any inappropriate behavior. Regular training for employees and managers can also reduce the number of sexual harassment incidents in your facility.

 

Do Your Due Diligence: Background Checks

When it comes to patients, screening in the healthcare industry plays an important role in preventing abuse of any kind. By conducting thorough criminal searches, identity screening, and previous employment verifications, facilities could discover misconduct before extending an offer.

Doing your due diligence before hiring a new staff member—whether they’re a doctor, an accountant, or a maintenance professional—protects not only your employees, but your patients as well.

 

Ready to learn more about how InfoMart can help? Reach out to one of our background screening experts today.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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