Medical Patient Modesty - a non-profit organization to improve patient modesty in medical settings


What You Should Know About Surgery

Millions of surgeries are conducted annually in the United States. It is an economic engine that drives hospitals. The financial impact surgeries have on institutions is best illustrated when elective procedures had to be canceled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. From March to May of that year, U.S. hospitals lost over $22 billion dollars according to Annals of Surgery, a medical journal (Source: Becker’s Healthcare on January 26, 2021). Due to the profits surgery generates, many surgeons, backed by the hospitals they work for, strive to perform as many procedures as possible. Consequently, it is not surprising to learn that many of these surgeries are unnecessary as institutions increasingly gravitate towards a “profits above patients” approach to medical care.

A Few Examples of Unnecessary Surgeries:

  • Orthopedic Surgeries (Knee, Hip, Shoulder, etc.) - Depending on circumstances

  • Back (Spine) Surgeries

  • Venous Ablations performed in operating rooms

  • Gallbladder Removal - Check out Gallbladder Surgery Alternatives

  • Tonsillectomies – More than 88% of tonsillectomies are unnecessary

  • Appendectomies –Many studies have demonstrated that appendicitis (if the appendix has not burst) can be treated with antibiotics. See Antibiotics Can Be as Effective as Surgery in Some Appendicitis Cases for more information.

  • Hysterectomies - Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States. It is estimated that 85% to 90% of all hysterectomies are unnecessary. Hysterectomies should only be performed for life-threatening conditions, such as invasive cancers of the uterus, ovaries, and cervix (many cases of early-stage cervical cancer can be treated by a cone biopsy), unmanageable infections, such as gangrene on the uterus that could lead to sepsis, and serious complications during childbirth, such as rupture of the uterus. Sadly, many gynecologists have scared women into having a hysterectomy by telling them that their benign conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroid tumors, and ovarian cysts could be cancerous. Gynecologists, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars from hysterectomies annually. For more information, read the article, Why Are Hysterectomies Often Unnecessary?

In addition to performing unnecessary procedures, another example of how hospitals disregard the needs, comforts, dignity, and rights of individuals is the fact that many hospitals in the U.S. implemented an inhumane no-visitor policy during the COVID pandemic. The purpose of this policy was to control the spread of the disease, and though this approach seemed effective, it ultimately did more harm than good as it forced many patients to recover and even die alone. For more information, read the article, No Visitor Policy During a Pandemic for more a more in-depth discussion on why this policy was a huge mistake and how patients should always be able to have a support person with them at all times with no time limits.

An administrator at a hospital argued that the no-visitor policy helped to reduce traffic at the hospital, which lessened the chance of COVID spreading. Misty Roberts, the president of Medical Patient Modesty, discussed why this policy was unethical while encouraging the hospital to cancel elective surgeries instead of implementing the no-visitor policy. One person with the hospital replied that elective surgeries could not be cancelled because it was a large source of revenue for them. Sadly, the response of this individual shows that the hospital was more focused on making profits than providing compassionate care for patients.

Not only are individuals subjected to heavy-handed hospital policies, patients are also pushed by doctors who insist they undergo surgeries that prove to be unnecessary. Doctors have a lot of power and often make “decisions” for their patients. Societal norms have conditioned the public to trust doctors as definitive experts and not to question them. People are frowned upon if they conduct their own research regarding medical issues and procedures. As a result, individuals tend to not push back against inhumane policies and dehumanizing experiences when interacting with the medical community.

Thousands of patients annually have sustained injuries or complications such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections from surgeries in the U.S. Some patients even die during or after their procedure as a result of infections. Check out MRSA Survivors Network to see some cases of surgery patients who contracted MRSA. One man contracted MRSA during knee replacement surgery at the hospital where he worked. As a result, the surgery left his knees in much worse shape. At one point, he had to be airlifted to another hospital in order to save his life. Another patient suffered a heart attack and experienced many other complications, including nerve damage from a back surgery she thought would help her.

Most people are aware that surgeries carry risks, but it is common for doctors to fail to fully disclose all of the hazards, probabilities of surgeries worsening or improving their conditions, or alternative non-surgical treatments. Many doctors recommend surgeries even when potential complications of the surgery could outweigh the benefits. Why does this happen?

1. Many surgeons were trained in medical school to conduct as many surgeries as possible even when they could treat their patients conservatively with non-surgical means because these institutions teach that surgery is the solution to many health issues. In some cases, doctors are paid ten times more to perform surgery than to manage a problem using other methods.

2. Many surgeons are incentivized to perform surgical procedures for financial gain, renown, or both.

3. Some surgeons have consulting or speaking agreements with medical device companies and sometimes are awarded payments to them for trips, lodging, continuing education, etc. (See this website to search for payments issued to specific doctors and hospitals:

Many hospitals value their surgeons who perform the most procedures because surgery generates profits, and they offer their top-performing doctors special recognition. For example, one surgeon received a banner sign recognizing him for performing 3,000 robotic surgeries. Because of the prestige and revenue doctors generate, many hospitals do not want to hold them accountable for crimes they commit. For example, a hospital in Ohio continued to keep a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Ryan Williams on their staff for a while even after there were allegations of him raping patients. They also continued to advertise him as an excellent surgeon. It is apparent that this hospital was more concerned about their profits than patient safety.

There are some caring surgeons who are more concerned about what is best for patients than making a profit.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • An elderly man was desperate to get pain relief for his shoulder so he went to a local orthopedic surgeon. He was told that he needed a shoulder replacement surgery and that he was an excellent candidate for surgery. His granddaughter was very concerned because he had some serious health issues such as severe sleep apnea. She encouraged her grandparents to get a second opinion so they scheduled an appointment with a different orthopedic practice. The second orthopedic surgeon told the man that he did not recommend the surgery because he was at a high risk of having a stroke and that it was likely that the surgery would not help his shoulder anyway.

  • An orthopedic surgeon told a lady whose hip muscles were damaged by polio that a hip replacement surgery would not help her at all because she had no muscles in her hips to hold the hip replacements. Many surgeons would have jumped at the opportunity to operate on her without telling her the truth for a profit. The same orthopedic surgeon told the lady’s husband with severe knee pain who has poor circulation in his legs that he could not do a knee replacement surgery because it would make him worse and that he would likely end up in a wheelchair.

Truth About Anesthesia / Sedation:

Most people are not aware that an increasing number of procedures can be performed in a more relaxed office setting or outpatient surgery center with only a local anesthetic. But some doctors will not offer patients this option due to the amount of money hospitals make off surgeries conducted in operating rooms using general anesthesia or sedation. While some doctors claim they use sedation and/or general anesthesia as a way to make the procedure less traumatic for patients, they may also be driven financially to do so because they get paid more for performing a surgery with sedation and/or general anesthesia versus using a local anesthesia.

Patients who are under general anesthesia or heavily sedated are extremely vulnerable and defenseless since they are unable to witness procedures that are being performed on them during surgery and, thus, cannot speak up or protect themselves when nurses, doctors, or technicians violate the wishes or boundaries articulated by the patient. Another issue patients face is that many are routinely and unnecessarily stripped naked for surgeries at some medical facilities. For example, a patient had his gown and underwear removed after he was put under anesthesia for surgery on his hand. Another patient was horrified to learn that hospital staff had removed the disposable underwear they had given him and shaved his groin and lower abdomen while he was sedated for a venous ablation procedure that involved the surgeon making incisions around the knee only. He was also livid to learn afterwards that his procedure is more commonly performed in an office setting with a local anesthetic instead of in an operating room with sedation. So he was unnecessarily subjected to the most expensive and traumatic experience possible. Beyond this man enduring the damage caused by non-consensual genital exposure and contact, numerous patients have been sexually abused when their private parts were videotaped or photographed by medical professionals they thought they could trust. Check out Surgery Patient Violations on Medical Patient Modesty's website for news articles documenting accounts of patients suffering abuse while under anesthesia.

Types of Anesthesia / Sedation

  • General anesthesia – Patients are typically given a combination of medications through a mask or intravenous (IV) needle. This will render the patient temporarily unconscious and unable to remember the surgery. This type of anesthesia also paralyzes a patient’s muscles, including those used for breathing. For this reason, a patient will require a ventilator until the surgery is completed and is given medications to reverse the effect of the anesthesia. This is the most risky type of anesthesia because it can cause many different complications, such as temporary or permanent throat and brain damage, and lead to cardiac arrest, stroke, etc. Procedures performed using general anesthesia could cost $15,000 or more than local anesthesia in some cases.

  • Conscious Sedation or Managed Anesthesia Care – This type of sedation is also referred as “twilight sleep.” It’s commonly used for procedures such as colonoscopy and is administered through an IV to render a patient sleepy and relaxed. While a patient may be heavily sedated, he or she will not need assistance with breathing unlike general anesthesia. An anesthesiologist has to be present to monitor vital signs to ensure the patient is stable. A patient is somewhat awake during surgery but is often unable to speak until the drugs wear off, which will sometimes take as little as ten minutes depending on the doses administered. Some sedatives that are used include Versed and Propofol (a dangerous drug that killed Michael Jackson). Some patients are sedated before they are put under anesthesia to relieve their anxiety or even to silence them. For example, one lady made it very clear that she wanted an all-female team for her hysterectomy, but when she spoke up, a male anesthesiologist sedated her with Versed so she could not object to him and other males being present for her surgery. Another lady was deceived by her female gynecologist who ensured her that she would be awake for a hysteroscopy. She was given Propofol that left her too sedated to speak up against the male anesthetist who was present, even though the practice was advertised as an all-female staffed practice. The lady suffers from PTSD because of her horrible experience and shared that she would have never consented to Propofol if she had known it would have been given to her. One man received literature stating that sedation would render him relaxed and/or sleepy. Yet, he was completely incapacitated during the procedure and does not remember anything about it. We do not recommend sedation because it allows medical providers to perform procedures on patients without their consent, such as pelvic exams, unnecessary shaving of the groin / pubic area, allowing medical professionals of the opposite sex to be present for intimate procedures, and unnecessary exposure of private parts. Check out the article, Sedation, Versed, and Your Procedure.

  • Regional anesthesia – This type of anesthesia involves numbing only a larger part of the body such as abdomen, knee, and hip being operated on. More orthopedic surgeries such as knee replacement surgeries utilize peripheral nerve blocks, a type of regional anesthesia that last longer than local anesthesia. Epidurals (spinal blocks) is another example of a regional anesthesia. Epidurals and spinal blocks are commonly used for abdominal surgeries such as C-Sections. Some risks of spinal blocks include seizures, infection in the spine, difficulty in urinating, and nerve damage. Due to these risks, it is best to avoid those types of blocks whenever possible.

  • Local anesthesia – Only a small area of the body, such as hand is numbed, without the patient needing to be unconscious during the procedure. With this type of anesthesia, there is less risk, recovery is quicker, and in many cases, patients are able to drive home afterwards. And with local anesthesia, surgeries often cost around 50% less than with general anesthesia.

Unnecessary Breast / Genital Exposure During Surgery

Medical professionals rarely discuss their alleged need to conduct intimate procedures such as pelvic exams, urinary catheters, shaving of pubic / groin area, etc. Nor do they mention exposing patients’ private parts, oftentimes to medical personnel of the opposite sex, before, during, and after surgery. Many patients would not consent to surgeries if they were aware of these issues.

Some hospitals still have a ridiculous policy that requires patients to remove underwear for all surgeries. One lady who was considering having a rhinoplasty walked out of a hospital when she was told that she would have to remove her underwear for surgery on her nose.

At some hospitals, patient gowns are routinely removed or pulled up as soon as he or she enters the operating room. If a patient is not wearing surgery shorts and/or underwear, the genitals will likely be exposed. Likewise, if a female patient does not have a surgery-specific bra or other covering, her breasts could be unnecessarily exposed.

There are certain procedures where regular underwear cannot be worn, but there are some special garments that can be used instead. Examples include:

1) During a colonoscopy or rectal surgery specially designed shorts can be worn exposing only part of the buttocks. Boxer shorts can be worn backwards. Also, a male patient could wear a jock strap to secure his genitals.

2) Patients who undergo hip surgery, cardiac catheterizations in the groin, and other different types of surgeries that require access to the groin, hip, or part of the back such as kidney surgery can use the COVR Medical garments invented by a caring orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bruce Levy.

Tips To Consider Before Having Surgery

1) Make sure that surgery is absolutely necessary. Do your own research to see if it supports the doctor’s recommendation. Get at least a second opinion and examine all potential risks of the surgery. Also, research alternative non-surgical treatments.

2) Do not trust the reviews about the surgeon on the hospital’s web site because they are often not a true reflection of patient experiences since hospitals often remove bad reviews. Be aware that reviews on Google and other web sites could be untrue because sometimes medical facilities have their staff post positive assessments. Also, do not rely on advertisements about doctors.

3) Opt for local or regional anesthesia without sedation if possible. Search for a doctor willing to conduct surgical procedures while you are awake, even if you have to travel farther. One man traveled from Maine to Utah to use a doctor who performs the UroLift procedure under local anesthesia.

4) Walk away from a hospital and outpatient surgery center if they have a no-underwear policy and dismiss your concerns about modesty.

5) Insist that you have a personal advocate not employed by the hospital, such as your spouse, present for your surgery with you. This is especially important if you will be sedated or under general anesthesia and if your private parts will be exposed. You need someone to ensure that no one of the opposite sex enters the operating room as the surgery is taking place. One lady found a female gynecologist and a hospital in Minnesota that allowed her husband to be present for her hysterectomy. Also, it would be wise to have a personal advocate present if you require an IV to ensure they do not put any sedatives in your IV, such as Versed or Propofol without your knowledge or consent.

6) Read all consent forms very carefully and mark out anything you are uncomfortable with. Don’t let anybody rush you into signing consent forms. Ask if you can get the consent form at least one day before the surgery and demand copies of any forms you sign.

7) Ask that they not give you any opioids since they have bad side effects such as nausea, addiction from possible misuse, and urinary retention that could require a urinary catheter.

Suing For Injuries or Death Related To Surgeries:

Many people never file law suits against doctors or hospitals when they or their loved ones have been injured or killed by negligent surgeons because they believe it would be too expensive to hire an attorney. They don’t realize medical malpractice law firms work on a contingency basis. Also, some people believe it is a hassle to sue or that it could worsen their grief. Indeed, a law suit won’t bring a loved one back, but it could force a surgeon or hospital to make much-needed improvements so another family would not have to experience a similar tragedy. Some Christians have the misconception that it is wrong to sue because of this verse: 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. However, this verse is talking about trivial matters with other believers (mainly in church).Wrongful death or personal injury cases are not trivial matters that cannot be resolved in a church.

Failing to file law suits allows doctors and hospitals to escape responsibility for negligence, and, thus, enables them to continue their flippant and harmful behavior. We encourage families or patients to seek out a malpractice law firm if they have been impacted by injuries or death due to surgery.

Resources to Check out:

Unnecessary Underwear Removal For Surgeries

Sedation, Versed, and Your Procedure

Modesty Concerns for Procedures and Surgeries

Why You Should Have a Personal Advocate For Surgery?

Surgery and Your Modesty

Surgery and Your Modesty - Youtube Video

Going Under the Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open

Watching My Surgeon Cut Into My Knee

Sedation Before Nerve Block Increases Risks, Not Pain Relief

Is nerve block anesthesia better for surgery?

The Hidden Dangers of Going Under

Ghost Surgeries - Sometimes, the surgeon who is supposed to do a patient's surgery is substituted with an inexperienced surgeon that could result in serious complications or even death.




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