Female Modesty Violation Cases
We have listed some cases where patient modesty was not respected
in medical settings. If you have a case where your patient
modesty or wishes for an all same gender team were not respected
and you'd like to share, you can fill out the patient
modesty violation form.
I was one example of why it is important to give adolescents the choice of a doctor of the same gender for pubic and other personal exams. When I was around 14 and just started puberty, my mom took me to the family doctor for a pubic check up.
Although he is a respectful doctor, it nonetheless was extremely uncomfortable to have him look at and touch parts of my body that I was not comfortable with anyone touching. I didn`t even expose myself like that to my mom, so you could imagine that exposing yourself to a male doctor would be even more uncomfortable.
At that age, however, I didn`t realize the ability to speak up , no one tells you that it`s OKAY to feel uncomfortable and that it`s okay to say no when you`re not comfortable with something. I trusted my parents and the doctor so much at the time that I didn`t even think that I might not be okay with it.
However, reflecting back (I`m now 22), I cringe at the thought that a mother would bring her young daughter to be examined in her private places by a male doctor without necessity. She herself was of good intention, but many parents like her just might not realize that many children have a natural sense of modesty. What we can take away from this is: even if a child doesn`t complain, it doesn`t mean that we should not be there to look out for their modesty too.
Date Submitted: 12/3/2013
My wife is an RN at a hospital so she and I both understand the necessity for compromising a patients modesty. She had also expressed her concerns and shock that patients were being unnecessarily totally exposed during surgery.
Today my wife had outpatient surgery to repair a tendon in her left ring finger. When she returned from surgery to the recovery room her gown had been removed and she was totally nude during her surgery. Her gown was laid over her during transport from the OR to recovery. Why was it medically necessary for a patient to be nude to have surgery on a finger????
concerned human being
Date Submitted: 7/17/2013
: I had gynecological surgery in the late 1990s at a teaching hospital. It for was an ovarian cyst. It was a scheduled non-emergency surgery. I had a female ob-gyn in private practice with privileges at that hospital. I was in my early 20s at the time. I had many reservations about going to a teaching hospital. I tried to talk to my doctor about them. She dismissed me with what I now believe is the standard speech about the superior care at teaching hospitals, she will always supervise everything and will be doing the actual surgery. I asked if a resident or any students would be present and stated I did not want one. She told me she would need an assist and the resident would be there for that purpose only. When I arrived at the hospital the doctor who came to see me was a male resident. I was very young and very nervous so I just asked when my doctor would be there. She arrived less than 5 minutes before my surgery, said the male ob-g yn would be assisting and handed me the consent. Foolishly, I signed it. Both in her office and on that day I was very specific that I did not want any students or residents present, partly for modestly, but also because I was concerned about errors. She gave me the same speech again. I never saw her again until my follow up appointment in her office. I remember waking up screaming in agony and remember him examining my abdomen and vaginal bleeding several times in recovery. I remember screaming for him to stop because I was I so much pain. I remember screaming for my husband and my doctor. Recovery consisted of a large room with rows of beds. There were no curtains and zero privacy. I had complications in recovery and was discharged anyway and wound up back in the ER the next day with a long list of complications. Fortunately, I had no permanent injuries and after a very long recovery period, managed to mend normally. I wanted to know what happened so I ordered my records. First, I found out the male doctor did a pelvic exam once I was out, despite the fact I had a pelvic exam and ultrasound just a few days before my surgery. I also found out he did the dictation on the operative report and my doctor was listed as present for the procedure. He also did all the post operative orders for my complications. Since then I have had two sections, I was awake, everyone was a female except the anesthesiologist, but he was a wonderful doctor so it all went fine. Two healthy kids, healthy mom, zero complications and no trauma.
Date Submitted: 9/17/2013
I'm very well educated, but I'm also quite modest. Because my health is excellent, and because of my issues with modesty, I had not seen a gynecologist in over 20 years. My husband finally convinced me to see a doctor when my problems became severe. It turned out I needed a hysterectomy.
Before making the appointment with the female gynecological surgeon, I checked with the receptionist to make sure that the doctor had an all female practice. I was assured that she did--including nurses and assistants. I also told the person I thought would be assisting with the surgery that I wanted only females during the surgery.
About 10 minutes before surgery, I learned that not only would the anesthesiologist be male, so would the circulating nurse. I was mortified, but agreed to allow both because I thought I'd at least be awake for the prep. Besides, I knew that once I was out, I would have no control who saw what and I had better play nice or things might get really bad while I was out.
To be clear, both the anesthesiologist and nurse knew I was very concerned--my modesty concerns were no secret to anyone. As the two men entered the waiting area silently, I was talking to my husband with my head turned in the opposite direction of where they entered and of my IV. They were standing there for about 15 seconds when I suddenly realized they where handling my IV. I said, "please don't give me anything. I want to be aware so I know who's in the OR." The anesthesiologist said, "don't worry, we're taking care of you." That's the last thing I remember. I have no other memory for over 6 hours.
The day after the surgery, I saw the person who I thought was the assistant for the surgery. She told me and my husband that the surgery went well and gave me post-op instructions before I was released--she made no indication that she was not in the OR with me. As a matter of fact all her comments intentionally lead us to believe she had assisted the doctor.
Finally, a week after surgery, when I was still having trouble remembering things, I called the anesthesiologist to see why I couldn't even remember being taking into surgery, being prepped or when I was given anesthesia. He told me, "oh, that's probably the Versed I gave you in the waiting area." I was stunned. I reminded him that I had explicitly asked to NOT be drugged before entering the OR. He told me that they knew I'd object to the males in the room, so they gave me the Versed to "calm you down." I was mortified.
I then requested my records from the hospital and learned that the team was almost entirely male--including the assistant.
I called the surgeon whom I had trusted to try to make sense of what happened. Basically, she told me that all the men are "professionals" and that I shouldn't worry about what they did or saw--they do it all the time. Let's be clear about what they did and saw--they stripped me completely naked, spread my legs apart, put my legs into stirrups, scrubbed my body, cleaned my vagina, let me lay naked for at least an another 10 minutes while I dried, and inserted their fingers and other objects into my vagina, all without my explicit consent and after being rendered unconscious deceitfully and against my will. When I asked her why I wasn't informed that she replaced her normal assistant with a male, she in essence let me know it's not her responsibility to tell me who will be assisting or who is in the surgical area.
When I contacted the hospital to find out why, when 90% of all nurses are female, would they put males to assist for gynecological surgery, I was informed that gender does not matter, all nurses are professionals.
I pointed out to both the doctor and the hospital that not one OBGYN in the area has males assist when the patient is wake and that woman should be treated with the same level of respect when unconscious as they are when conscious. Both said that surgery is different--"that's why people are sedated." Hospitals/surgeons don't want patients to know what's happening during surgery--"it's not necessary. Most patients like you would just object, so sedation helps everyone."
Needless to say, I will never allow myself to be sedated again.
Date Submitted: 10/7/2012
I am sharing this experience on behalf of my wife and she is fully aware of and has endorsed this submission. It seems that, in some circumstances, individual patient preference is immaterial. Respect for medical support staff based on blind trust of their technical qualifications at the expense of patient concerns to me, is paternalistic and misogynistic.
My wife recently was asked to obtain a echo stress test. After making the appointment three days prior, the appointment was yesterday. At the time of making the appointment and as a result of feeling uncomfortable being exposed to and touched by a male, my wife requested a female team do the stress echo test and was told that that would be fine.
Upon arrival, there was 3 people present in the room; one female and 2 males. She was advised that the Dr would be present when the stress portion was completed. She indicated to the female present that she felt uncomfortable with the males in the room. The female replied telling her that they were the only staff available and directed her to remove all of her clothing from the waist up and put a gown on (in full view of all in the room). Again my wife stated that she didn't feel comfortable and at this point, one of the male technicians intervened. In an obvious attempt to relax my wife, he told her that she shouldn't be worried and that they see "boobies" all day long. He then attempted to further explain that she shouldn't be 'relaxed' because when she was walking on the treadmill they would "flop all over the place" and that there was no way that the gown would "keep her covered". Rather than this providing any comfort to my wife, her anxiety levels increased significantly.
To her credit and at this point, she turned and walked out of the room. I was waiting in the waiting area for her and I could see that she was emotionally distressed.
When she joined me, two of the people inside the room, one male and one female, approached us and spoke to my wife. She said that she didn't want to have the test and the female, in a rather superior and mildly offensive manner, said that she was "just being silly" and suggested that she "stop wasting time".
At this point a Dr came forward and asked what the problem was. My wife briefly explained the circumstance and he invited us both to return to the room (away from the Reception Area) and speak. We did. Once in the room the Dr took a rather conciliatory approach (which was appropriate) and both my wife and I explained the background and she said that she felt very uncomfortable with the present circumstances. The other 3 were standing observing the discussion. The Dr explained that they were all Medical Professionals and that the examination needed to be done and it was not possible for it to be an all female team. At this point I asked what aspect of professionalism dictated that a male should dismiss my wife's concerns out of hand by telling her that he sees 'boobies' all day long and that they would be 'flopping all over the place' while on the treadmill. The Dr had no response to this at all - he just looked blankly at me.
By this time my wife was quite distressed (not a good thing prior to a stress test I am sure) and I told all present that we were leaving and would seek another service provider to conduct the test. Before we could leave, the male technician holding a series of leads stepped forward and addressed me in what I think was an attempt at an intimidating manner. With a very direct gaze he leaned forward and asked "What's the matter? Don't you trust us?". I responded with "no, not at all" and though he was quite taken aback by the answer, he mumbled something about my answer as being offensive and turned away. At this point, we left the room.
Prior to leaving the office, the female that was present in the room followed us and before we could leave told us that we would be required to pay the $650 for the test even though we didn't have the test done. I told her that, as my wife had explained her expectations three days prior to the appointment, had been told that those expectations would be met and that they had now changed, we would not be paying for the appointment and that I would be lodging a complaint with the appropriate Medical Authorities.
Since leaving, my wife has had a phone call from another Dr (presumably someone in charge) apologising for the experience and magnanimously 'waiving the fee'. He also suggested in very forceful terms that lodging a complaint would be counter-productive and a waste of time. The complaint has been lodged.
Based on this experience, I have to say that I am disillusioned with the professionalism, people-skills and due care and concern displayed by these people. I understand that in a life threatening situation the people trained to give treatment will be any gender and focussed on delivering life saving intervention. I support this without question. What I do not support is that, for an exploratory examination that is non-life threatening, the wishes, preferences and concerns of the patient are immaterial, insignificant and dismissed out of hand. For whatever reason, if a patient makes certain requests, then that patient should be listened to, the requests addressed and if the requests are not possible, a full explanation provided as to why the expectations cannot be met. To disregard a patient's concerns as "just being silly" is offensive, derogatory and supercilious.
I am very angry about this experience and my wife is still somewhat distressed. As a result, I have lost complete faith in medical support services, ultrasound technicians and specialist providers. In a life threatening situation and for myself, I will accept whatever treatment is offered. However, based on this exchange, I will be loath to seek preventative intervention and or testing and that is a shame, sad and disappointing - but it is the way that I now feel.
Date Submitted: 8/23/2011
Several years ago, I was referred to the OBGYN department of the local hospital due to a late-term pregnancy complication (gestational diabetes). The young female doctor was ferrying around some useless students. Students should be professional too! However, they were apparently following the example of this doctor. She seemed more interested in amusing them than in assisting me. After a perfunctory, uncomfortable examination, I was asked, "What drugs are you taking to stay skinny for your boyfriend?" I was shocked and embarrassed. I was also very scared and very pregnant, with persistent morning sickness and the added complication of the dietary restrictions imposed when you have GD. I reported her comment as inappropriate (the director of nursing agreed), and was told that I would not have to see this particular physician again. Skip forward a few months: 42 weeks pregnant and in labor. Same hospital. My favorite doctor walks in. I asked her to leave. She said no. I tell her I've reported her. She tells me she is the only doctor on the floor. I ask for a different floor. She proceeds to try and examine me while we are having this conversation. I asked her to get her hands off of me. We finally agree to disagree. She quickly examines me again, and then announces that I am not even halfway to delivery and to WALK to the lab to have blood drawn. I complained of painful contractions making it too difficult to walk and was told that, "I doesn't hurt that bad. Hurry up." I was crying and being dragged down the hallway, firmly, by one of my arms. Every time I stopped to get my breath during a contraction, I was reprimanded and told that I was being dramatic about the pain. Before we even reached the lab, I was announcing that I had the urge to push. The nurse told me, "You don't know what you're feeling- you're not ready yet." She believed me about 30 seconds later when my son was born. I had previously done my birth plan with them including holding him and breastfeeding, but he was taken away for several hours and bottle fed. Less than five minutes after this traumatic birth in the lab, I was directed to urinate on cue. I protested, so the same nurse who would not heed my concerns earlier, proceeded to catheterize me against my stated wishes, while remarking and gesturing to another woman in the room (of unknown use), "This is so hard right after a birth- nothing looks the same down here!" Wow! Of course, I ended up with a nasty UTI (first and only.) I filed several formal complaints with the hospital administration. For my trouble, I was sent a nice letter that firstly apologized and secondly asked for me to sign a form stating that I would not sue the hospital. It was heartbreaking. I desperately wish I could change the whole scenario. Please, ladies, PLEASE, at least visit a birthing center before letting physicians convince you that hospital births are the only route. Don't let doctors bulldoze you and bring REINFORCEMENTS. DO NOT GO ALONE. No matter how large or small the procedure, it is important to have a friend or family member with you, who knows your wishes, and who you can trust to advocate for you!
Date Submitted: 10/7/2010
Just a few months ago, I had been violated by an ex boyfriend. It had been 3 days since the incident happened, and when I noticed that I was still having trouble, I decided that I needed medical help.
I attempted to be seen by a nurse in a nearby small town who I knew well enough to feel comfortable with. She couldn't see me because my injuries fell outside of her jurisdiction, so she wrote me a referral to the ER.
I had gone to one hospital in the area and I walked right out REALLY upset that THEY HAD NO FEMALE DOCTORS!
So then I went to a different hospital that had female doctors on staff. I had to wait much longer (over 3 hours) because I was so "picky" in my demands for what gender my doctor had to be.
When I finally got in, they put me into a room with nothing but a curtain to separate me from all the people in the hallway. They had to do a pelvic exam to assess the damage, and when they did I REQUESTED that they put me in a room with a door where it would be private, but they told me they couldn't.
I had to lay on a bedpan, listening to male voices with 2 females in the room and a male holding the curtain and standing outside to make sure no one pulled the curtain open (and how do I know if he's looking at me or not?)
They had to give me a shot of advant because I was freaking out with a bad anxiety attack. I told the doctors about my history of sexual abuse, but I guess it made no difference.
I notice that every time I go to any doctor's office that does OB/GYN, there's either a camera in the room (angled right at the woman's exposed body), or a window with open blinds- things that really exploit a woman's sense of privacy to her own body. It makes me so disgusted at the medical field.
Date Submitted: 7/5/2010
I am a female veteran. I was diagnosed with breast cancer (female veterans are diagnosed with breast cancer at twice the rate of non-veterans). I was scheduled for a mastectomy and GYN surgery on the same day.
Due to awareness of research proven male propensity to rape, the intimate nature of the surgeries, modesty and privacy concerns, I requested an all female team.
I was lied to, manipulated, and abused.
The surgeries who I was told would be performed by particular experienced faculty were assigned to interns supervised by a resident. No effort was made to restrict the gender of providers, just to hide them from me.
In spite of being told before and after the surgery that no males were present, medical records indicate that a male intern performed the surgery, a male circulating nurse was present as was a male anesthesia nurse. I am sure other male students were in the room as well.
In response to my complaints, I have suffered having my medical records and care sabataged, suffered abusive violent comments and responses to my complaints, a refusal to hand over all my medical records, and threats that the V.A. will retalitate by attacking my diabled husband if I go though with my lawsuit.
Date Submitted: 7/6/2010
My wife had a hysterectomy over a year ago. Her gynecologist is a female and per her request the assistant Surgeon was a female as well as the anesthetist and the circulation nurse. When my wife was taken to the OR (she was already drugged) quite to her surprise and disdain there was a male in scrubs in the room. We later found out that person was an OR Tech whose duties include preparing all supplies and the OR and handing the surgeon supplies (instruments) during surgery. For those who don't know what happens prior to surgery let me briefly explain. The patient is placed on the OR table and is anesthetized. For a vaginal hysterectomy the gown is removed or pulled up so far as to make it useless for privacy. The patient is then prepped, scrubbed from just below the breasts to the anus. This includes spreading the vagina and cleansing the inside. This is done while in the lithotomy position and everything spread wide for all to see. When complete the patient is left in that position and naked waiting for the surgeon. When the surgeon enters she, with the help of the OR Tech then place the sterile drapes on the patient covering all but the surgical site.
Needless to say, this is a very private and personally sensitive operation that I believe should be limited to female personnel only. That would have been our choice.
Date Submitted: 5/16/2009
After 37 years of accepting that the Dr is always right I ran off 5 male student doctors who were gawking at my wife's nude body while the female nurses were dressing her. They didn't have the couth to turn their backs for even a moment. The medical need to know was on the monitors not on her hips and breast. In the next three days I had to run off two male nurses who tried to check my wife's ECG leads even though her chart and the room door plainly stated female personnel only. A male cardiologist made no attempt to drape my wife during a 45 minute test. By this time my wife became dissociative of the entire experience and remains so one year later. I had to force the operating room staff to use proper draping procedures. The only feed back I got was grunts and groans about the extra work. One female nurse privately said that she wished her husband loved her this much. I said that he does but that there are strong societal norms that people are afraid to break.
Date Submitted: 5/26/2009
I'm a survivor of a violent rape twelve years ago. A breast/pelvic exam is a genuine ordeal for me. I've been seeing the same doctor for the last five years; or rather I've mostly seen his PA, a very nice young lady who has always seemed concerned and caring. Mainly I've been seen for med checks because I take Zoloft, at the maximum dose, for PTSD. The PA knows this, and even though I am very reluctant to discuss details, she knows I have problems with being touched and with physical exams.
I was put in an exam room on a busy hallway. From its open door, there was a direct line of sight to the reception desk and anyone who might be standing there. The lab was just across from it, usually with several people waiting for patients loitering along it.
I was kept waiting for over an hour. Then the PA came in and said "Take it all off, top and bottom" and left. I had to sort through the folded stuff on the table to find what was supposed to be my gown, which turned out to be an open-front vest that barely came below my breasts. I was still struggling with it when the PA knocked, and when I said "Please help me with this" she opened the exam room door and immediately gave an exhibition of me nearly naked to several people who were standing at the desk talking to the receptionist.
For the record, I'm forty-two and I'm not attractive. I don't think that people are looking at me lustfully, or that there's any sexual component. The point is that I don't feel comfortable with people looking at me AT ALL especially men.
It was all downhill from there, really. There was an "assistant" in the room, a trainee nurse assistant I think, whose purpose didn't seem to extend to anything other than staring at me while I was on my back with my legs spread with one notable exception. I tried to hold a tiny paper sheet around me while the PA did the pelvic and gave me helpful advice like "Just breathe" and "A man must have invented this test, huh?" Midway through she realized that she didn't have everything she needed for the pap smear and so she asked the mouth-breathing tech to go get something for her from the next exam room. The tech flung the door wide open, and I got a nice view of a guy not six feet away standing in the hall, who got to see me covered by nothing but a scanty paper sheet.
When the pap smear was over, the PA said something about occult blood that I didn't catch, and pushed her finger in my rectum with no warning. When everything was finally over, the PA told the tech to give me some kleenex to "clean up with", and I was handed a wad of tissues to wipe myself while they both stood there and watched.
I cried from the time I left the exam room to my car. In my car I ended up hyperventilating until I had to open the door and vomit onto the parking lot. I'm still shaking as I write this. I was a piece of meat again, humiliated and ashamed. I have worked so hard to get past things and yet here I am again. I don't care if I get sick, I don't care if I die of cancer, no one's ever going to be able to do that to me again.
Date Submitted: 5/26/2009
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