Mr. Giles Pender is a new patient in your general dental practice who is the husband of Carole, a good friend of yours whom you met in a service organization five years ago.
Giles is 35 years old and is in excellent general health, has stable vital signs, and had dental needs that included periodontal therapy for his chronic, Type Ill-moderate periodontitis, and the replacement of four defective amalgam restorations. Your treatment plan included the initial therapy of home care and thorough root planing and scaling, followed by a reevaluation for further therapy. The replacement of the defective amalgams was not required in the initial phase of treatment.
The office personnel have been complaining about Giles since his first appointment. He is extremely gregarious and is always telling stories, but the receptionist complains that his stories are "dirty jokes," and "sexually suggestive,” and he is always trying to hug or touch her." The dental hygienist has also complained about his jokes and his sexual remarks and it bothers her that she has to treat him since that puts her in his "touching distance." She said: "I warned him that his remarks were inappropriate and that he should stop them immediately, but it only helped for a while. He even told people in the office that we were lovers." Although you haven't directly observed this behavior, all of the office team, including your dental technician, have noted his overtly sexual remarks. Giles has three more appointments with the dental hygienist which she is dreading.
You are now faced with an ethical dilemma about sexual harassment from a patient. Consider the following courses of action that you might follow:
1. Don't be overly concerned about this situation.
2. At the next appointment, make sure you are near the operatory to listen to Giles and decide if he is sexually harassing the dental hygienist.
3. Refer him to a periodontist for further treatment.
4. Call Giles and describe your concerns to him before the next appointment, and if he doesn't deny these allegations, dismiss him immediately.