Sexual harassment a pervasive problem in health care

Sexual harassment affects people from all walks of life, and it is also an issue in virtually every type of work environment. While sexual harassment occurs in all industries, it is statistically more common in some fields than in others. If you count yourself among those who make their living working in hospitals, doctor’s offices or other health care settings, you face a higher risk of falling victim to sexual harassment that you would in other work environments. 

According to Harvard Business Review, sexual harassment is so pervasive in health care that it impacts between 30 and 70% of all female doctors. While this is undoubtedly troubling, so, too, is the fact that the problem is even more widespread in academic medicine. In fact, as many as half of all modern female medical students report experiencing sexual harassment during their academic careers. 

Side effects of sexual harassment 

Women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace often find themselves fearful or uncomfortable in their work environments. However, there is also a wide range of side effects associated with experiencing this type of treatment. Many women who experience sexual harassment in health care or other industries find that it impacts their mental and physical health. Others find that the treatment leads to feelings of depression, burnout and anxiety. 

The impact on patient care 

While sexual harassment hurts the victim, it may also have far-reaching effects that impact the quality of patient care within a health care organization. How? Sexual harassment often leads to lost productivity, legal expenses and reputational harm, for starters, which cost health care organizations money and time they could otherwise put toward patient care. Thus, health care organizations that fail to properly train and penalize their employees for sexually harassing others are doing themselves a major disservice. 

There are many reasons why sexual harassment is especially common in health care. This does not mean, however, that you have to sit back and accept being a victim of it.