Magazine article Drug Topics

Controlling Molestation Risk

Magazine article Drug Topics

Controlling Molestation Risk

Article excerpt

Cases of sexual molestation may occur at all types of organizations. Highly publicized recent cases include day care centers, schools, religious institutions, and the U.S. military. Healthcare organizations-medical and dental practices, hospitals, and nursing homeshave also been the subject of recent press reports.

Pharmacy practices have not received the same degree of publicity. Cases involving pharmacies most often relate to conduct between co-workers-not to conduct with a patient, as is usually the case with other health-care organizations. But as pharmacy services expand, particularly those involving physical contact with a patient's body, the relationship more closely resembles that of other health-care organizations.

In brief, pharmacies are vulnerable to two major sources for allegations of sexual molestation-conduct between employees and conduct with patients. To lessen this risk, pharmacies should implement proactive risk management strategies, including preemployment background checks, written policy statements and employee conduct rules, formal employee training, complaint investigation, and serious personnel action when required.

Background checks

A policy requiring preemployment background checks should be established. Regardless of how well the employer knows the prospective employee, no exceptions to the policy should be made; even one exception can compromise the integrity of the policy. Background checks should be made with previous employers and with law enforcement agencies where the prospective employee lives or has lived. Open inquiries should be made with references provided by the prospective employee and with his or her written consent. All records related to background checks must be kept confidential and secured in restricted files.

Policies and rules

All pharmacies should establish written policy statements concerning sexual molestation, together with rules of conduct governing relationships between employees and with patients. Such policies and rules must specifically address physical contact related to both relationships. The policies and rules must be concise and easy to understand, yet strongly stating a position against any conduct that could be interpreted as inappropriate.

The policies and rules should be conspicuously posted at the pharmacy at all times. Each employee should be given a written copy, and a signed receipt should be kept in the employee's personnel file.

Training

Policies and rules related to sexual molestation should be incorporated into new employee orientation and training programs and then reviewed periodically with existing employees. …

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