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Letters & Emails
For Women, Sexual Harassment Is a Two-way Street
Zzz Zzz
Publish Date: October 10, 2007

RMV->) Re: "Sexual Misconduct in Today's ORs" (February, page 24). As a physician and surgeon for more than 20 years, I do not deny that sexually inappropriate behavior can be found throughout the operating room environment. But I take exception to the message that this is a problem created almost exclusively by male surgeons. Though likely not as pervasive, but certainly just as deplorable, female nurses are equally culpable for such unethical conduct. I do not consider myself to necessarily be sexually appealing to the opposite sex (except to my wife, of course), yet over the years in the confines of the operating theatre, I have been told hundreds of tawdry jokes, been flashed and groped and been asked personal questions about my body parts and propositioned.

Our society seems to find female-initiated, sexually explicit talk and behavior to be daring, almost commendable. A pat on the butt from a woman is (supposedly) complimentary, while the same gesture from a man is cause for disciplinary action. Should a surgeon initiate such a claim of sexual harassment, he would be derided in toto by the nursing staff as being a stuck-up prude.

We live in a time of gender hypersensitivity. I am absolutely certain that many have been falsely accused of some type of exaggerated claim of sexual misconduct. Once the sexual harassment tiger has been released from its cage, these reports take on a life of their own. The endless paper trail, committee investigations and peer sanctioning cannot be halted until someone (usually the male physician) has been denounced (or often much worse). Most hospitals bylaws disregard the same evidentiary standards required by the legal system. The rights and anonymity of the accuser are arduously protected, while the rights of the accused are trampled, the latter often not being allowed any opportunity to meet his accuser, or to even bring legal counsel to hospital hearings. With this process, the outcome is predetermined. The physician/surgeon will be found guilty.

John L. Baeke, MD
Park Place Plastic Surgery
Overland Park, Kan.
writeMail("[email protected]")

I just finished reading your article and wanted to say it was right on point and I gave a copy to each of my surgeons. I had only one problem with it. The next-to-last paragraph says, "boys will be boys." It appears that you are saying only men do this. Sorry to be so picky but I take offense to the paradigm that only men can be sexual harassers.

Ron Cline
Executive Director
First Settlement Orthopaedics
Marietta, Ohio
writeMail("[email protected]")

For the Record

  • "Fast Facts About Random, Unannounced Surveys" (December, page 26) had several errors. Random, unannounced surveys and unannounced triennial surveys are distinct and different types of on-site evaluations. Since 1993, JCAHO has conducted one-day surveys at randomly selected accredited organizations. There is no charge for these surveys, and they will be discontinued in 2008. Beginning in 2006, JCAHO is replacing regular announced triennial surveys with unannounced triennial surveys. Currently, JCAHO is pilot-testing unannounced triennial surveys. Only organizations that volunteer to participate in pilot tests of this process will receive unannounced triennial surveys in 2004 and 2005. These volunteer organizations will not be part of the pool for random, unannounced surveys and will be charged a survey fee as if they were undergoing a regular, announced triennial survey.
  • We misidentified Mike Ewing, director of support services at Leica, in "Is it Time to Replace Your Operating Microscope?" (February, page 37).