Legal Question in Health Care Law in Missouri

female patients with only men in attendance

I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 30 years.I was taught in school that a female patient must always have at least one female staff member in attendance during an office exam, clinic procedure that requires disrobing or an operating room procedure. I was told by a Veterans Administration Legal Counsel 20 years ago that when a female is in one of the situations as above or on a psychiatric unit in restraints or seclusion that she must have a female in attendence at all times and documentation to validate it. When I bring this situation to the staff attention in our operating room the female employees deny any need for this practice and scoff at the idea. This is a real issue to me because I feel that if it were my mother, wife or daughters, I would want a woman there with them .Not only is this my wishes it's theirs also.Is this a law anywhere or not? Doesn't this seem like common sense practice? I'm amazed that the women I work with see this as a joke but I know them well enough to know that everyone of them would insist on a woman present for their own procedures.

Asked on 8/31/05, 10:19 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Anthony DeWitt Bartimus, Frickleton Robertson & Gorny, PC

Re: female patients with only men in attendance

What you describe is a rule of prudence designed to reduce the number of false accusations of rape or fondling. There is no law, as such, that governs this issue. Hospitals are free to make the policy they desire, but what you describe is a good idea, when possible.

As an attorney, when I meet with an unaccompanied female in my office, I always have my secretary sit in. I do that for my protection, not the client's, because I know what kind of man I am. I often do not know what kind of person the client is.

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Answered on 9/01/05, 9:55 am

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