Doctors Being More Sensitive to Patient Modesty
Many patients care about their
modesty in medical settings and their wishes for modesty should
be honored. Most patients welcome medical professionals
of either sex for procedures and exams which do not expose
their private parts. Intimate procedures are another
story. Many patients prefer same sex intimate medical care.
For example, many women prefer a female gynecologist and many
men prefer a male urologist.
Patients often seek doctors who
are sensitive to their needs. When they find a doctor willing
to accommodate them these same patients will return for care
and recommend you to family members and friends. Doctors
sensitive to patient modesty are in demand. Many men
seek male urologists that employ male nurses. It is strongly
recommended that you check out patient
modesty friendly doctors and follow their example.
*For urologists or doctors who
do intimate procedures on male patients, check out How
Urologists Can Be More Sensitive to Men's Modesty?
*For female gynecologists or doctors
who do women’s health, check out How
Can Female Gynecologists Be More Sensitive to Women's Modesty?
*All doctors are encouraged to
watch the videos, Problems
with Medicine Being Gender Neutral and Surgery
and Your Modesty.
Here are two examples
of surgeons sensitive to patient modesty:
1.) One Illinois orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Scott
Trenhaile, invented a special ‘Modesty
Bra’ for female shoulder surgery patients after he
received concerns from his female employee who felt uncomfortable
letting him operate on her shoulder with her breasts exposed.
The Modesty Bra can be used for many other surgeries.
2.) An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bruce Levy who
performs hip replacement surgeries at Mayo Clinic in Rochester,
Minnesota grew weary of seeing patients unnecessarily exposed
for the surgery and it inspired him to invent Covr Medical garments.
Patients who undergo hip surgery, cardiac catheterizations in
the groin, cardiac bypass surgery, and other surgeries that
require access to the groin, hip, or part of the back can use
the Covr Medical garments
which cover the genitals. These garments have helped save embarrassment
for so many patients. Realistically, many patients are more
anxious about how they will be exposed for procedures than the
actual procedure itself. One man who needed heart valve replacement
said the garments helped to save embarrassment.
We need more doctors like Dr.
Trenhaile and Dr. Levy who went the extra mile in helping to
protect patient dignity and modesty.
We encourage all doctors to work
on being more sensitive to patients. Below are some tips to
use as a guide.
1.) Never try to convince a patient to accept
opposite sex medical professionals for intimate procedures.
Don’t use arguments such as “they are professionals”,
“they’ve seen it all”, and “they are
very skilled and have done this procedure many times”.
2.) Put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign
on the exam door so other medical personnel do not randomly
enter during intimate exams.
3.) Let the patient have the choice of who
she/he wants to be present for her/his intimate exams. Some
patients, especially male patients, do not want any chaperones
(ex: female nurse) to be present.
4.) If you are a dermatologist, do not pressure
a patient to have a full body skin exam that involves the genitals.
This should be optional. While it is true that some patients
may have a chance of having melanoma in the genital area due
to sunbathing nude, keep in mind many patients have never had
the genitalia exposed to the sun or tanning beds. If a patient
comes in for a suspect area of the body such as a shoulder,
focus heavily on that specific area of skin.
5.) Ask for permission before you touch certain
areas of any patient’s body. Explain in precise details
what you will be doing, especially if the procedure involves
private parts. Always respect a patient’s wishes if he/she
says “No” to something.
6.) Let the patient wear their street clothes
as much as possible. Many procedures and tests, including blood
tests, blood pressure tests, stethoscope heart exam, eye, ear,
nose, and throat examinations, as well as throat cultures can
be done fully clothed.
Check out the articles about patients wearing their own clothes:
Beneath the Hospital Gown and Keep
Your Pants, and Your Dignity, at the Hospital.
7.) Always strive to give patients maximum
dignity and respect. Do not unnecessarily expose them. For many
surgical procedures that do not involve the genitals, hips,
and groin, patients can wear 100% cotton underwear or disposable
underwear/shorts as long as they do not contain metals. Check
Underwear Removal for Surgeries. Utilize special garments
such as Covr Medical Garments
for procedures that require access to the groin, hip, and part
of the back (ex: kidney procedure) and the Modesty
Bra for women. If a rectal exam or colonoscopy is required,
give the patient the option of wearing boxer shorts backwards
or specialized colonoscopy shorts that only expose their buttocks.
8.) Never push a patient to accept medical
students or residents against their wishes.
9.) If you cannot accommodate a patient’s
wishes for a same sex team, suggest other facilities/doctors
or schedule that procedure when a same sex medical team can
10.) Educate your staff to be sensitive to
patient modesty and privacy. For example, a man may not want
to discuss his health issue with a female receptionist.
11.) During general anesthesia
patients continue to expect dignified care. For patients who
require surgery that involves exposure of their private parts
commit to helping them get a same-sex surgical team if that
is their preference. Be open to using local or regional anesthesia
if that is the preference of the patient. This allows the patient
to remain awake and alert during a procedure and gives many
patients peace of mind. Also, patients should have the option
of having a personal advocate such as their spouse present for
surgeries and procedures. Check out this article, Why
You Should Have a Personal Advocate?
12.) Treat compromised patients and those who
suffer with dementia and Alzheimer’s with the same dignity
as any other patient.