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


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.

Tips For Doctors

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: Hidden 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 out Unnecessary 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 be accommodated.

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.

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