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Preventing Sexual Harassment in Healthcare System
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Preventing Sexual Harassment in Healthcare System

Introduction

Healthcare is rife with sexual harassment, yet the solutions are few and feeble. In general, healthcare organizations lack the knowledge to appreciate the issue, recognize how their organizational culture contributes, and respond to sexual misbehaviour with appropriate resources and firm action. They must adopt audacious measures to end harassment and provide a secure atmosphere. Implementing Posh Act 2013 at your workplace will help you to fight against this social evil. 

It’s critical to understand the differences between sexual and occupational harassment. Workplace harassment may take many forms and transcend gender, caste, and class barriers. Sexual harassment is behaviour with a sexual undertone that makes a person feel uncomfortable. The sexual undertone need not be stated; it can also be inferred from the situation, the persons involved, their relationships at work, power dynamics, and the act itself. Posh Training for employees is available online and offline at Muds Management. You can contact the Posh lawyer for Posh Training at your workplace. 

Some of these include conducting thorough and repeated assessments of the types, incidences, and severity of harassment and discrimination; 

  • promoting a comprehensive policy that expresses a strong commitment to equality, 
  • inclusion, and respect; 
  • Implementing policy clearly and consistently. 
  • Victims won’t come forward unless they feel secure doing so. They are certain that their report will result in a prompt, complete, and impartial inquiry and that their harassers, regardless of status or reputation, will be penalized. 
  • Offers must be prohibited from taking “extended leave,retiring covertly or accepting the transfer to another healthcare system.
  • Practices that show tolerance for outrageous behaviour don’t work to deter future wrongdoing.

A hierarchical structure, a male-dominated atmosphere, and a culture that tolerates violations — especially when committed by individuals in positions of authority — are just a few characteristics that make an organization vulnerable to sexual harassment. 

These three components are all present in the medicine. As many as 50% of female medical students and 30% and 70% of female physicians report experiencing sexual harassment. And when compared to other scientific disciplines, academic medicine has the greatest sexual and gender harassment rate.

Imagine a medical school dean telling the new class to “look at the lady to your left and then at the woman to your right,” as we said in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article. Before starting her career as a doctor, one of them will experience Sexual Harassment Of Women In The Workplace on average over the following four years.

Many medical facilities and healthcare organizations primarily focus on avoiding legal action. This must be altered. We suggest many steps institutions could take to stop sexual harassment and establish a secure atmosphere where every medical community member may work to the best of their abilities on behalf of patients.

INSIGHT CENTER

Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment

The first step is for healthcare firms to commit to learning about the problem. The types, severity levels, and frequency of harassment and discrimination must all be accurately and consistently assessed. Because this is unlikely to happen organically, boards of directors and trustees should demand public reporting of aggregate information. In these forums, staff employees may offer proposals on reducing or terminating harassment and link executive, dean, and chair remuneration to performance.

Employers Should Conduct Yearly, Anonymous Employee Surveys Using Established and Verified Measures

(NASEM and the AAU provide such surveys on their websites.) Equity Quotient also provides one, our business.) Each firm can determine exactly where it needs to improve through measurement, test theories and solutions that match its culture and requirements and monitor progress. It is important to share survey results and combined information on harassment complaints with everyone in the company.

Policy Improvement

  • Every health care company must promote a transparent, all-encompassing policy that demonstrates a strong commitment to equality, inclusion, respect, and safety. 
  • It should include norms of conduct, procedures for sexual harassment complaints from employees, and institutional responses to offensive or abusive behaviour, discrimination, and retribution. 
  • The National Council of Nonprofits and the Association of Title IX Administrators provide examples of such policies. 
  • These can be used as a guide by organizations, which can then adapt them as necessary to suit their particular requirements.
  • A robust policy is often developed and implemented under the direction of human resources. 
  • HR should be in charge of ensuring that management has made explicit its zero-tolerance policy explicit, that staff members have faith in the present processes, and that the reporting processes are simple to grasp. 

Here is a helpful list of crucial inquiries from the law firm Cleary Gottlieb on how executives should approach sexual harassment. It inquires, for instance, about the effectiveness of senior management’s zero-tolerance policy and who should be in charge of overseeing investigations into claims of harassment. While internal processes may be effective, if there is any doubt about the neutrality of the internal probe, independent external investigations should be conducted. 

Organizational Solutions Must Be Implemented Consistently

  • The only way for victims to come forward is if they feel secure doing so, are certain that their complaint will prompt a prompt, comprehensive, and impartial investigation, and that, if wrongdoing is found, their harassers—regardless of their status or reputation—will be penalized. 
  • It must not be permitted for perpetrators to take an “extended vacation,” resign covertly or accept reassignment to another healthcare system. 
  • These “cover your ass” actions signal tolerance for atrocious behaviour and do little to deter future wrongdoing. 
  • These clauses will lessen the likelihood of reprisals, barriers to career progress, and additional trauma.

Cost-benefit Analysis Report

The costs of harassment are significant in terms of money, reputation, and people. 

  • Examples include claims of sexual assault against members of the medical StaffStaff at the University of Southern California (USC) and sexual assault against patients by a gynaecologist on the USC faculty, for which USC recently paid the victims a $215 million compensation. 
  • In another instance, USC administrators appointed the ophthalmologist as dean of the School of Medicine despite being aware of a $135,000 settlement with a woman who had claimed sexual harassment and retaliation by Dr. Rohit Varma in 2003. 
  • When the administration confessed it had lost faith in Dr. Varma’s capacity to manage the institution in response to previously revealed material, less than a year later, he resigned under pressure.

Leadership

In environments where males predominate, harassment thrives. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that there are more women in leadership positions and that there is also parity in pay and power. 

  • The mentorship and sponsorship programmes, which are crucial for professional advancement, are among the activities that might be helpful. 
  • For instance, Drexel University’s Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) programme, a 12-month fellowship for women in leadership positions in the schools of medicine, dentistry, public health, and pharmacy, offers skill development, mentoring, and a network of ELAM alums who continue to offer support after the fellowship year is over. 
  • The success of other industries can serve as a model for healthcare institutions. 
  • At Eli Lilly, for instance, CEO David Ricks has ordered leadership to embrace mentorship, training, and promotion initiatives that have significantly boosted the proportion of women at the company’s top levels.

Why Is It Getting Worsened?

In the shadows, we heard stories of sexual harassment taking place in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were battling to access the healthcare services they needed to survive, such as oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors, and volunteers who were doing their best to facilitate resources and rations for the survival of those in need.

A 38-year-old female COVID patient was reportedly sexually harassed by an ambulance staff while driving to a scanning facility. In another case, a female family member of a COVID-positive patient was touched around the waist and subjected to sexual harassment while caring for her unwell spouse. One might halt and reflect on her circumstance and choice regarding whether or not to complain in case it influences how her husband is treated.

In the COVID -19 isolation ward, incidents of patients abusing other patients began to emerge. Even the physicians, over whose care one frequently unquestioningly cedes responsibility, were complicit in these crimes. In one especially horrifying case, the attending physician insulted the modesty of a 25-year-old female COVID-19 patient for two days in a row.

These incidents haven’t just included medical personnel and patients; one good Samaritan who posted her phone number online to assist individuals looking for COVID resources was inundated with offensive messages and requests for sexual activity.

Even though they are disproportionately the victims, women have not been the only ones to experience such unwelcome behaviours. A complaint of a male COVID-19 patient who was sexually abused by a doctor while being treated in the critical care unit of a private hospital in Mumbai brought to light one such incident.

On the other hand, there have also been cases of Sexual Harassment Of Women In the Workplace by persons they are attempting to help. For instance, a young person assaulted an ASHA health worker while on COVID duty.

These are only a few of the incidents that made national news and show how, contrary to expectations, sexual harassment has become more common throughout the pandemic. These occurrences make it more important to consider why sexual harassment is so common and what causes it when humanity should be at the forefront.

According to data, sexual assault tends to increase in times of crisis, including war, natural catastrophes, and medical crises. There is an increase in violence against women, which is attributed to several factors, including stress and uncertainty about basic needs like food, employment, or economic stability, which can lead to a sense of helplessness and loss of control as well as poor coping mechanisms, some of which manifest themselves in violence against women, including sexual harassment, as highlighted in the news articles above.

What we have observed during the epidemic is the pervasive frequency of quid pro quo sexual harassment, defined as “this for that.” Expressed refers to the act of a person in a position of authority holding someone at ransom to wield their influence over someone believed to be weaker. The powerful use their status to demand (explicitly or implicitly) sexual favours in exchange for the necessary support or assistance. In the current situation, press reports have mentioned a man in Delhi who has openly requested sexual activity to give those in need an oxygen cylinder. It had been difficult for them to speak out against it because they were afraid of being refused medical care in the wake of other events, such as a doctor abusing a patient or medical personnel harassing the attendant.

Because we are less guarded around physicians and medical personnel because we anticipate them to overcome our typical physical boundaries for medical inspection, it may sometimes be difficult to understand the indiscretion. An overwhelming sense of powerlessness would be the overall effect of such aggressive behaviour by healthcare workers against patients and attendants. Since it is essentially a trade-off, if they don’t speak up about the wrongdoings, they could be able to spare their own life or the life of a loved one who is in danger.

Medical Staff Faces Sexual Harassment.

  • Internal conflict may occur among doctors and medical personnel when they experience sexual harassment from patients. 
  • Even if the person is improper, they still owe them a duty of care. Therefore it may not immediately be void. 
  • Additionally, they are frequently taught to understand their patients’ frustration and powerlessness as they attempt to regain control of the situation by doing such behaviours, which is not a reason to treat them similarly. 
  • When faced with sexual harassment, medical professionals frequently explain it or prioritize the interests of their patients over their own. 
  • This puts individuals in a challenging scenario where they could worry about their safety but might also feel a strong sense of obligation and guilt for not fulfilling it.

What Factors May Lead to Sexual Harassment?

  • There have been several attempts to clarify and focus on the causes of such frequent instances of sexual harassment.
  • The socialization of gender roles, which essentially implies the promotion of male dominance, sexual objectification of women, and the societal acceptance of violence against women, is considered from a social and cultural standpoint as having led to sexual harassment. 
  • The social-cultural approach also views sexual harassment as a strategy used by those in positions of authority to acquire or hold onto their power, stemming from a sense of entitlement.
  • There is a theory that persons with less social, cultural, and organizational power—typically women or minorities, such as those who identify as sexual or religious—are more vulnerable to being sexually harassed by those with more authority.

Effects of Sexual Harassment in a Hospital

  • Even though we might not want to acknowledge it, Sexual Harassment Of Women In The Workplace often occurs at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare services, just like it does everywhere else. 
  • This is true even in the face of the aforementioned documented incidents.
  • Additionally, institutions like hospitals and nursing homes exhibit the same risk factors for sexual harassment as other workplaces, including hierarchical structures, environments where men predominate (especially in positions of power), and cultures that tolerate violations, especially those in positions of authority carry them out.

Both those who work there, such as female physicians, nurses, and technicians, and those who use these services, such as patients and attendants, must deal with sexual harassment (those accompanying the patients).

Conclusion

According to the POSH Act 2013, sexual harassment includes overt behaviours including unwanted sexual approaches, demanding or soliciting sexual favours, exhibiting pornography, making sexually suggestive comments, sending sexually suggestive texts, and any other inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace. Women Harassment Act also involves implicit behaviours, such as refusing to act in a sexually improper manner when being threatened with termination or a hostile work environment. 

 

 

 

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