Dignity4Patients believes that one of our most important challenges is to educate the public so that the opportunities for patient abuse are minimised. Knowing your rights and knowing what is appropriate in a medical setting is the first step in preventing you or your loved ones from experiencing sexual abuse or violation of boundaries.
This is what we believe patients and their families need to know:
- As a patient, you do not have to tolerate physical or sexual advances.
- Under the Irish Constitution, the citizen has a right to “bodily integrity”. This means that, as a patient, the citizen has a right to autonomy and self-determination over their own body. Unconsented physical intrusion is a human rights violation.
- If a medic is asking personal questions that do not relate to the illness or injury, the patient is not obliged to answer.
- If a medic is making personal comments about a patient or their body (even if they are complimentary) the patient has the right to ask them not to speak to them in that manner.
- If a medic is examining a patient in a way that feels inappropriate the patient has the right to speak up and say stop.
- If a patient is asked to remove clothing that does not relate to the area where the illness or injury is, they have the right to ask why before doing so. The medic should not watch the patient undress.
- If a child or adolescent is being examined, the parent or guardian has the right to be present and should not be excluded by a medic from the examination (unless on request by the child).
- When accompanying an elderly patient to a medical or therapeutic setting for treatment or an examination, you can be present should the person wish to have you present for support.
We believe a patient must feel confident and safe so that they can be treated effectively and participate constructively in their care. Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to ensure the safety and well-being of patients in their care.