NewsAssaults in clinics - nurse breaks taboo

Assaults in clinics – nurse breaks taboo

Offensive jokes, obscene cell phone messages, unwanted contact – these are attacks that mostly female nurses and doctors experience more and more frequently at their workplaces. But many are silent.

Hamburg / Ludwigsburg – It starts with seemingly fleeting touches on the back and holding the hands for a long time while turning a patient: The Hamburg intensive care nurse Monika Wagner (name changed by the editorial team) finds this behavior strange when handing over to a colleague.

When the latter then stood far too close behind her when entering data on the computer and tried to make a rough sexual remark, the nurse crossed the red line. As she leaves, she throws the man who wants to change to her ward: “Think about what you will say next.” But she does not want to leave it at that and turns to her superiors. The 29-year-old is one of the few who break the taboo on sexual harassment in the hospital.

Crossing boundaries

According to the German Hospital Association (DKG), most hospitals deal very intensively with violence and sexual assault. Employees can be exposed to transgressions in a variety of ways. “On the one hand, there are distinct hierarchical levels in hospitals that can lead to abuse. On the other hand, situations arise in which patients are also assaulted, ”says a DKG spokesman.

The hospital society refers to the Hospital Barometer 2019 of the German Hospital Institute, which is still current from their point of view, according to which around 83 physical or verbal incidents of violence are recorded per hospital and year. And the phenomenon is increasing: In 59 percent of hospitals, physical or verbal attacks had increased in the last five years, according to the survey. According to staff group, nurses are disproportionately affected by attacks by patients and third parties. Nursing services are frequent victims of harassment in one in three hospitals and occasional harassment in 61 percent of houses. Problems are reported particularly frequently in the emergency room. Because of the high number of unreported cases, the numbers only showed the tip of the iceberg, according to the publication.

Stupid sayings? No thank you!

The Ludwigsburg RKH clinics want to counter this development with an ombudswoman. It should ensure that those affected can reveal themselves and think about further steps with expert help. There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination for other reasons, says RKH managing director Jörg Martin. “It is very important to us that our employees feel comfortable and safe in their workplace.”

Monika Wagner also wants to feel safe. “I don’t have to put up with stupid sayings from any colleague,” she is convinced. Therefore, she informs the ward management of the incident and makes it clear that she will resign if the man’s request to transfer to her ward is fulfilled. She is heard and supported by the equal opportunities officer. She learns that she is not alone with her problems and that men suffer from sexual harassment too. Wagner’s statements lead to the ward and top hospital management warning the man. He then resigns himself.

In Ludwigsburg, the ombudswoman Stefanie Lejeune has recently been willing to listen to those affected. “If you are looking to talk to me, what you experience can be quite drastic,” says the former judge. The risk of attacks on clinics is particularly high: “There people inevitably work in close physical contact, which affects patients and staff as well as colleagues among themselves.” to complain to the bosses of their superiors.

According to Lejeune, the predominantly female victims are very reluctant to make attacks public. “They ask themselves whether they provoked certain behavior or correctly interpreted what happened.” The long-time ombudswoman knows: the younger and inexperienced the person concerned, the less courageous they are to say that a colleague or patient does not accept a “no”. “Some of those affected can only talk about what has happened years later and then want to hold the perpetrators accountable so that others do not have to suffer the same injustice,” the lawyer observed.

Employer’s duty of care

Monika Wagner also experienced the victims’ reluctance to speak about what happened. “Most of them dismiss such a pick-up, but many feel impaired and yet deal with it internally.” When colleagues learn of the attack on them, others also report similar experiences with the colleague in question.

Ombudsman Lejeune emphasizes the employer’s duty of care. If he receives such information, he has to investigate and prevent the violent behavior to protect the employees – and in the case of clinics also the patients. High fluctuation in the workplace or frequent absenteeism could be particularly signs of sexual harassment.

The question “Who looked the other way and what can we do so that employees intervene when colleagues are exposed to verbal or physical attacks” is also important for the reappraisal. ”The RKH clinics draw a positive balance of the offer that has been available since April. The need is there, the steps against sexual harassment are effective.

Intensive care nurse Wagner, based on her experience around one and a half years ago, advises all those affected to get help. Your appeal to victims of sexual harassment: “Open your mouth, do not be ashamed, you did nothing wrong.” Dpa

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