1 in 3 nurses have reported sexual harassment by physicians; no action taken 74% of the time

More than 10 percent of nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants experienced sexual harassment within the last three years, with 33 percent of nurses reporting harassment from a physician, according to a Medscape report.

To determine how nurses, NPs and PAs experienced sexual harassment, Medscape gathered data from over 6,200 U.S. physicians and clinicians.

Medscape asked respondents about specific harassing behavior they have experienced or witnessed, where it occurred and how their workplace responded.

The report aims to describe the current state of sexual misconduct in healthcare by asking about instances that happened within the last three years, rather than instances of harassment over a professional's entire career.

Six survey findings:

1. Fourteen percent of respondents witnessed sexual abuse, harassment or misconduct in the workplace. Only 1 percent of nurses, NPs and PAs were accused of sexual harassment.

2. The most common kind of harassment involved sexual comments, leering or commenting on body parts or anatomy (64 percent); deliberately and repeatedly invading personal space (62 percent); and unwanted groping, patting and other forms of inappropriate touching (51 percent).

3. Among nurses and NPs, 33 percent said they experienced harassment from physicians, and nearly half (48 percent) said harassment came from "others," which included administrators, healthcare-related personnel and patients.

4. Forty-four percent of nurses, PAs and NPs said the perpetrator was in a subordinate position to them, while 30 percent said the perpetrator was a peer, and 25 percent said they were a superior.

5. Patient care units (35 percent) and hallways (27 percent) were some of the most common places harassment or abuse occurred. Nurses, NPs and PAs also noted harassment incidents took place in administrative areas not accessible to patients (19 percent).

6. About one quarter of the incidents reported resulted in an investigation, while 74 percent of those who experienced sexual harassment and reported it said no action was taken.

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