When Our Reputations Are Soiled

By January 23, 2016Nursing

A Physician in Manhattan whose name I will not mention here has been accused of one of the worst crimes a healthcare provider can be accused of. Sexual Assault.

This particular physician is famous, and has been widely known as a huge patient advocate throughout the medical community.  He has written at least one book about Physician-Patient relations.  And not the ones that were allegedly going on in that ER Room.  

We can look at this from a few angles.  

  • He sexually assaulted a patient and to protect the safety of the public he must be jailed, and his medical license revoked. His career will be destroyed.
  • He did not sexually assault a patient, rather his patient hallucinated after being given morphine. Which we all know is an occasional adverse reaction to morphine. His career will  be destroyed.
  • His patient was not honest. His career will be destroyed.

Do you see a common theme here?

His career will be destroyed.arrested_doctor (1)

You know, it occurs to me that something like this could happen to me on any day.  When I worked in the ER, a patient threatened to punch one of our techs in the face because we were out of blankets. I told the patient that it was inappropriate and that further threats would cause me to call the police.  It was a holiday weekend and the linen company underestimated our census.  It’s unfortunate. but it happens.  We were using doubled sheets, bedspreads, etc.  The patient was there for a problem which involved some pain, which was addressed. The patient called my boss on Tuesday and told her that I was abusive in my language, and refused to address his pain.  The charting told another story. Luckily, my boss knew I was not abusive, and I had already sent her an email about the threats, and what we needed to do about these things as an organization.

That could have ended differently.

We have seen all sorts of allegations in the news against healthcare providers.  What we barely ever see is the follow up story. Unless it is really juicy and awful.  We never see the stories of those who are cleared from their supposed crimes.

Perhaps there should be some kind of law in place so healthcare providers, teachers, police officers, etc should be innocent until proven guilty.  That means we would have to be kept out of the news until our guilt was determined.  As long as we are barred from practicing during that time, I feel as though it would be appropriate.  The public would be protected and we could possibly work in our profession again. Agree or disagree?

While the public must be protected, it should not be at all costs.  Unfortunately, we must also be protected from them sometimes.  It is terrible to say, but we live in a litigious society.  We also come across many people who are untruthful, or mentally ill, or become angry when we do not give them precisely what they want instead of what they actually need to become healthy.

Can you tell me about a time this happened to you or someone you know? Or maybe about a famous case?

Love,

Janie

 

****Edit to above.  Please re-read this before you assume I am somehow victim-blaming.  My very first response to this was that if he is a dangerous rapist he needs to go to jail and lose his medical license.  I am simply bringing to light the vulnerability of healthcare providers.  I do not know this physician, I do not have a dog in this fight.

 

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Author Janie Garner

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Evan Shaw says:

    I find your interpretation of the facts to be naive. Do you really think morphine was the only drug involved here?

    You also fail to mention conclusion #4: “A sexual predator is uncovered and potentially dozens of victims are saved of life-altering abuse”. I find your lack of identification with the potential other victims to be a bit disturbing.

    I understand your article is focused on the crazy things patients can say and the ramifications for our careers. I can speak to this as well. I recently had an alcoholic patient (one that was in florid DT, no less) write a letter to the CEO of our hospital complaining that I “reeked of alcohol” during my encounter with him. It’s amazing to me that one allegation of abuse, be it sexual or drugs, can almost always trigger a wave or rumor and paranoia throughout a health care administration.

    Fortunately, as you did not have a history of abuse, neither do I have any history of DUI/drug abuse/assault, etc, and I volunteered for a forensic drug screen (against my lawyer’s advice). That pretty much ended the issue.

    While peer review is appropriate for cases such as mine and yours, if sexual assault or patient safety is the issue at hand, the provider needs to be removed from the field. Immediately. This doc also had a recent precious incident with another patient (which you failed to mention) and so this was NOT the first sign of a potentially dangerous provider. It was the second, and the hospital acted appropriately.

    Sexual assault, especially of potentially helpless individuals, needs to be taken very seriously. Especially when the patient has physical evidence of the assault. Do you think an innocent doctor would have turned him or herself in to police BEFORE a DNA test could be completed, if they didn’t already know that the results would condemn them?

    Evaluation of patient complaints, patient satisfaction, and the right to pain control are complicated issues with a lot of grey area. Sexual assault should not be.

    • janiegarner says:

      # 1 was, he is a rapist and needs to go to Jail. I am a SANE, and a tremendous advocate for the rights of sexual assault victims as well as taking them seriously. I was not aware of a previous incident, thanks for letting me know. However, my action here was not to support a guilty man, but to talk about OUR vulnerability. I am sorry if I hit a nerve with you somehow, truly. However I DID state that a dangerous rapist needs to go to jail to protect the public.

  • Heather says:

    This happened to a transporter in our hospital a few years ago. As soon as the accusations came in, his face was plastered all over local news stations. That was the first time I realized just how vulnerable we are as healthcare workers.

  • S.N RN says:

    It is the scary truth that this happens and to easily! I’ve been a nurse for 13 yrs, always taking pride in giving great care with compassion, now I question my calling. An aide who was not doing her job properly as care planned on a pt. with new wound thought I was aware of her skipping steps and blaming the breakdown on her, which I was totally unaware until this day. Then she out and out refused to do job as instructed, screamed and yelled at me, rebelled against any authority I had. Refused to go to administer with me to continue discussion. Shortly after incident, I hear she went and told lies to staff at snf and my administration saying I’d cussed her out ultimately causing me to no longer be able to go into that SNF that I’d work so hard to build a good reputation in. I have never and would never cuss any team member! And thats not my style, I’m the one singing Chris Tomlin and listening to christian music to lift myself up, not one running around cursing. Nevertheless, I was being treated guilty and felt I was being sabotaged causing me to leave my job that I thought was my calling. And its changed me knowing that no matter how hard you work to make a difference, somebody can get mad, tell a lie to cover their tale and lack of professionalism and change everything! Currently still haven’t went back to work, haven’t wanted to, just praying for direction. Not a famous case, but A true story.

  • LA says:

    When I was in nursing school I worked as an aide at a snf. For whatever reason one of the aides apparently didn’t like me. She decided to report me for leaving a patient soiled. I used to bust my butt and treat everyone patient there as if they were my own family, while the very person who reported me sat on her butt all night and was lazy. Unfortunately all the other aides were afraid of her.. So none of them would back me up! Thankfully, the director of the snf decided to speak with all of the residents who backed up what type of aide I was… But just like that it could’ve ruined my career before it even started… Pretty scary when you think about it.

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