A Reddit post published on April 26th, reported by Alice Gibbs from Newsweek, has gone viral with over 9,100 upvotes and 1,300 comments after a woman discovered that her husband had been sexting with a nurse.
The anonymous poster shared that her husband recently spent a week following a minor surgical procedure in the hospital.
“He was being sort of flirty with this nurse who handled his care, but I thought nothing of it as there was some medication and anesthesia involved so I thought his mind wasn’t really there,” she said.
After his release, she discovered that he’d been sexting the same nurse. “I’m mad and just beyond angry..I have been doing my best to care for him. completely shattered inside and feel so betrayed.”
The response from the Reddit community was very supportive of the author. Several commenters called the nurse’s behavior “unethical.” One person even suggested that she “Go straight to HR!”
A 2020 psychiatric review found that when nurses experience inappropriate sexual behavior (ISB), “they tend to describe this situation as harassment.” But there is very little documentation related to instances of abuse of power in nurse-patient relationships.
In an article published in the Nursing Standard journal, the author indicated that awareness of health professionals who have had “sexual contact” with current or former patients appears to be increasing.
The article further states, “The reported incidence of sexual misconduct cases referred for nursing discipline hearings in the US is 0.6 percent of all cases (NCSBN 1995).”
However, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) defines professional boundaries as “the spaces between the nurse’s power and the client’s vulnerability.”
According to the NCSBN, “Crossing professional boundaries or improper use of social media are violations of the nurse practice act and can be the cause of professional discipline and termination of employment.”
Addressing the issue of nurse-patient boundaries, some experts suggest that nursing programs should do more to educate students about appropriate professional conduct. They argue that nurses who engage in inappropriate sexual behavior or abuse of power with patients can cause serious harm, both to the patients as well as to their own careers and reputations. Others, however, argue that such issues are rare and can be dealt with individually rather than through broad educational measures.
What do you think? Should nursing programs do more to educate students about appropriate boundaries with patients?