Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)7 Jul 98


Quick Summary: The suppository was not inappropriate treatment, was not improperly given and was not contrary to physician’s orders.

The patient’s testimony does not establish a sexual assault by the female patient's male nurse. COURT OF APPEALS OF TENNESSEE, 1997.


   The patient filed a civil suit for damages against the hospital. She claimed a male nurse at the hospital had committed a sexual assault by administering a rectal suppository to her.

   The patient stated the male nurse came to her room, asked family members to leave, shut the door and closed the window blinds. He stated he had a suppository for her. The patient asked for her female nurse, but the male nurse stated he was a registered nurse and could give a suppository to her. He came to the side of the bed, pushed the patient on to her side and held her legs over to the side. He inserted his finger into her rectum. The patient stated she believed no lubricating jell was used and that no suppository was actually inserted. The patient stated she felt considerable pain and was making sounds with her mouth and was kicking her legs the whole time. Then the nurse left the room and allowed family members back in.

   The Court of Appeals of Tennessee assumed the patient was not fabricating her account of this episode. It ruled nevertheless there was no evidence of a sexual assault and upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the civil case against the hospital. Roberts v. Blount Memorial Hospital, 963 S.W. 2d 744 (Tenn. App., 1997).