Years ago, I was accused of being inappropriate with a patient. The female patient made a comment to a staff member that was vague enough to get me suspended for several days while an investigation was done. Although I was vindicated by the patient's crazy and unclear accusations, it left me feeling vulnerable.
When I spoke to the human resources department about it, I was told there was nothing I could do except wait until the investigation was over. I asked if I had any recourse against the patient making false allegations. "Not really," the HR person said. "If a patient makes a statement against you, we have to suspend you for three days while the facility does the investigation, then you can come back to work." The HR person went on to say, "When you place a gait belt around a female patient, you may inadvertently make her feel uncomfortable and if she complains, we will have to do an investigation."
The problem with my case was that I rarely spoke to or treated the patient during the time she accused me of being inappropriate. The staff member who reported it apologized to me and was sorry I got suspended. I told her she was only doing her job when a patient reports something like this. I also thanked the administrator for being thorough in the investigation.
So what's my recourse with a false allegation like this? Nada. A patient at any time could accuse me of anything and I would be sent home with pay while an investigation is done. This does not make me feel comfortable while treating female patients when no one else is around, but in reality there is no real way to prevent it. Even if the accusation is absurd, crazy, there are witnesses and the patient has a history of reporting false allegations, an investigation still needs to be done.