Sunday, April 15, 2012

Modesty: Medical vs Societal Standards
Guest post by Carolyn Knight

Medical Carte Blanche

If you go through security at an airport and are selected for a pat down, they will make sure that a TSA agent that shares your gender pats you down.  If you get arrested and receive a pat down before entering a squad car and an officer of your gender is not present, one will be called to the scene.  But, if you are in need of a urinary catheter at a hospital, you get no say in the matter whatsoever.  Oftentimes they are not even going to perform the insertion behind closed doors. 
Awaiting a prostate procedure
In today’s medical facilities, statistically speaking, catheter insertion is more likely to be performed by a female nurse. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only around 6% of the nurses in the U.S. are men. Since some patients do not wish to be examined by a medical practitioner of the opposite sex due to cultural, moral, and modesty standards, this is a problem.

Some people believe that there is a general attitude in the medical profession that what gets in the way of a medical objective must be crushed and swept out of the way.  When it is cancer, then by all means, crush it and sweep it out of the way, but when it is human dignity people must advocate their rights. 

Dying female patients that are admitted to the emergency room that must have their clothes cut off and their breasts exposed for a chest tube or worse might not be too concerned about their modesty, but sometimes modesty is violated over matters of convenience and not collapsing lungs. 

People that enter the medical profession may not have the inherent tendencies to violate patient privacy. However, a total lack of modesty in training in school from LPN programs all the way to medical school and you have many practitioners that no longer have any boundaries. 

According to ABC news, men are less likely to visit the doctor than women because of factors such as modesty and a desire to not appear helpless. The price men pay for not seeking medical attention is tremendous. If those in the medical profession work to respect the privacy and modesty of their male patients, they would likely see a spike in men seeking help for their medical conditions. Men should, at the very least, be able to choose the gender of their doctors and nurses in the emergency room when they are seeking help for conditions that require extensive physical examination.

Of course, modesty and privacy concerns don’t just affect men. According to the American Medical Association, only around 40% of practicing OB/GYNs are women. And, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, around 50% of women prefer to seek help from a female doctor when it comes to childbirth and gynecological issues. So, women who desire to see a female gynecologist in the emergency room have less than a 50% chance of being able to do so. Women can, of course, choose the doctor that gives them a pap smear. However, they rarely have a say when it comes to which doctor sees them in an emergency room.

Male patients have a right to a male medical professional whenever exposure or contact with genitalia is a factor as much as female patients have the same right to be treated or handled by a female.  The lack of consideration for this right to privacy is not healthy for the trust of the patient in the practitioner, or for the aspects of truth, compliancy and giving forth of information and compliancy that is necessary for optimal treatment. 

As the accused have fought for the rights to be searched by the same gender, shouldn’t the same level of courtesy be given to those made vulnerable by their need for medical attention?

Author’s Bio: Carolyn is a guest blogger who writes about career advancement, LPN programs, and higher education.