No Excuses: Don't Let Failure to Foresee Lead to a Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment Claim

October 19, 2018 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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In "nearly every case" the key to a sexual assault case involving a healthcare provider is foreseeability, said Andrew Efaw Esq., speaking October 8, 2018, at the American Society for Health Care Risk Management (ASRHM) conference in Nashville. As a result, Efaw said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It is imperative that organizations implement effective sexual harassment practices; provide regular, documented training on sexual harassment; educate healthcare personnel on related risks; and take every complaint seriously. A repeated point of the presentation was the importance of documenting even the most minor complaints. "Record everything," said Jennifer L. Disner, JD, CPHRM. "I really mean it. The worst thing for me is when I hear about something that you knew about six months ago." The speakers continuously returned to the importance of taking every report seriously. "Every time it happens someone goes, 'I know this person and this didn't happen,' " Efaw said. "And I can tell them, 'Actually that's what everyone says.' And often it's wrong." It will be tempting for organizations to believe their staff, Disner said, "but we're saying you shouldn't believe anyone. You need information." It is imperative to document complaints as soon as they are received. "If a provider has a suspicion that one of their colleagues did something sexually inappropriate and didn't report that, you have a problem," Disner said. "It's not a violation to be a creepy person. But what do you do when there's suspicion? You have to report it." It also does not matter if a provider denies it. "What is a provider going to do when you come to them with an accusation?"

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