Sexual Assault/Abuse in Medical Situations

Some people I have communicated with have been confused about exposure in necessary care versus being exposed as in being sexually assaulted. There is a huge difference. As I have said in a previous post, some think it is alright to be exposed to the opposite sex if they are a doctor or even a nurse. However, they think that being exposed to someone who does not have a 4 year or more medical degree such as a CNA, makes a difference. I guess that is outright snobbishness thinking that non 4 year degree workers cannot behave professionally However, what is not realized is that 4 year degree medical workers also may not behave professionally.

Understandably, some people do no want to expose their genitals to anyone of the opposite sex. However, many times in medical care they are forced to expose their genitals to workers of the opposite sex whether it is by prior knowledge or by an ambush. For instance, many men may see a male urologist but the worker readying him for the procedure or accompanying him during an exam will most likely be a female. Many men are not aware there will be a female present and as they are all ready in a state of undress and disadvantage by this surprise female visit, this is what is termed an ambush. Many male patients are not aware that a female will be readying them for an exam and when the female enters, they freeze like a deer in the headlights and allow themselves to have their personal space and feelings violated. This may make men more unlikely to seek future healthcare.

Another way male patients are ambushed, is having scrotal or prostate ultrasounds. While it is true that most hospitals employ female technicians for female ultrasounds or mammograms, male patients must endure having a female technician conducting this very intrusive ultrasound on them. In healthcare, males do not receive the same fair standard of treatment that females have. A female would be unlikely to have a vaginal ultrasound done by a male technician and be alone in a small room with that male tech in such a compromising position. Not only are male patients usually alone with the female tech but sometimes they may call in another female to be their witness. The other female may be clerical workers and not a healthcare service worker. Although female patients have better consideration than male patients, female patients are still not safe from being molested. No female patient should ever let their guard down.

However, being informed with this information can now help prevent any patient from being ambushed. Although the health provided may not tell you and may even try to tell you that you have no choice, you do have choices and rights. All patients are entitled to have same sex care if requested. Sometimes like in Labor & Delivery this is done for female patients. The only male healthcare worker present may be the male doctor the female chose. For males, this rarely happens. Over 90% of hospital healthcare workers are female. Most healthcare office help with the exception of the doctor are female. The feeling among healthcare workers may be males don’t have modesty and if they do, as healthcare workers, males have nothing they haven’t seen before or anything special. However, for the patient, the story is different.

As a society, we are taught to keep our genitals covered. We wear clothes. In a healthcare setting, we are expected to have our genitals exposed to any healthcare worker whether they be male or female, clerical or medical. It as if once a patient enters the healthcare door, we are expected to manipulated and used by healthcare workers as they see fit. We are expected to obey and not question.

If you are unfortunate to have surgery, you can expect you will be totally exposed. This seems to be common practice even for surgeries you would not imagine your genital region needs to be exposed such as a knee surgery. There have been pictures on the Internet used to train medical workers for surgery procedures showing patients being exposed. The majority of times prior to surgery you will be told they are giving you “a little something to help you relax.” While this injection into your IV may be an anti-anxiety medicine, the drug of choice–Versed–actually has for the medical community a better benefit than relieving your so-called anxiety. Why Versed is used is that it causes amnesia. Versed also causes humans to become uninhibited. When mixed with fentanyl which it is a majority of time, the patient will become high having a feeling of contentment and being unable to move unless prompted. It paralyzes some people where they can’t move because their muscles feel like water. You can be stripped naked for as long as they deem acceptable and allow anyone to be present. Furthermore, you probably will not remember it. This makes it very easy for them to do their job how they want it done whether than having to be careful not to disrespect your personal dignity. This practice makes the abuse of the defenseless patient super easy. Pictures may be taken of the naked on staff personal cell phones. They may have their “buddy” come and look at your naked body. You will probably have no idea of all the things done to you or what was said about you during this time.

During visits to the Emergency Room, patients are often exposed needlessly. Yes, there may be a need to examine a patient for injuries but that should be done with consideration for the patient’s personal dignity. No patient should be left exposed. No patient should be subjected to unnecessary people in the exam room while they are exposed. Many patients are too ill to defend themselves, do not know what is to be expected and know when to speak up, or some may be unconscious. Just because you are in the ER does not mean you should be exposed unnecessarily or give up your need for same sex care. ER patients are still humans too and may have issues from having been treated like a piece of meat. Whenever possible, a family member should be present to help the ER patient navigate all the information thrown at them. ERs should not isolate patients from family so they can railroad a drugged, severely ill patient into treatment they do not and would not want. If you are female in the ER and are experiencing chest pains, you can expect to have your chest area exposed. If you are unconscious, alone, or severely drugged you may expect there will not be any effort to cover your breasts because of the EKG leads. If you were taken to the ER by EMTs you may have already been stripped by the EMTs.

So what constitutes exposure that is actually a sexual assault? For many patients exposure that constitutes sexual assault will happen when the are defenseless such as drugged or unconscious. Other types of sexual assaults such as physical penetration or fondling of a patient’s genitals will occur during times when a patient is drugged or unconscious. Nursing patients are at great risk for sexual abuse/assault as they are often confused, weakened, etc. Nursing home sexual assault can be perpetrated by a medical worker, another patient, or even a visitor. Sexual predators seek individuals who are in a weakened state and who are defenseless. It gives them a feeling of power.

Both instances of sexual assault that happened to my husband was when he was drugged and therefore, defenseless. Furthermore, those medical workers knew his state and depended upon the drugs to allow them to abuse him. They know it is not necessary to completely expose an individual for an angioplasty. There is no reason for a male’s penis/testicles or a female’s vaginal area to be exposed. There are garments made to protect those areas. They can even use blue clothes to shield the genital area during groin prep. In fact, most cardiac cath manuals state the patient’s genital area should be covered and patient modesty/dignity protected. So why it is not done? What was wrong with those 4 female cath lab workers who were all RNs with specialized training in a large Catholic hospital in Indianapolis? Do they delight in abusing the personal dignity of only male patients or do they also get the same thrill exposing female patients? We are told over and over how compassionate nurses are and that they are the protector of the patient. Certainly this is not true. All involved in my husband’s care had to know he was “high” from fentanyl. There is no way they could not have known that a man who was given 100mcg of fentanyl 15 minutes prior to arrival was high and therefore incapable of making any decision or even protecting himself from abuse. It is a well known fact that people high on opiates which fentanyl is one of the most powerful even more so than heroin, that he was not alert to person, place, and time. So why did they lie? Why did they foist their criminal intentions upon him? On top of the 100 mcg of fentanyl that the Drug DeadCirlcle helicopter service gave him without true reason or consent, the cath lab gave him Versed and another 50 mcg of fentanyl. This was done before the consent was signed by them. Clearly, he was not able to sign the consent and which also it may be concluded if he was not able to sign the consent, he was not able to understand what was happening and that he did not give verbal consent after being so drugged by them. Sadly, probably many more patients are lied and deceived like my husband was. Sadly, too, many patients are stripped naked and left exposed and put on display for any and all to view. It is clear that the medical community is a callous, abusive, and criminal institution. It is also clear that sexual and medical assault is condone by most of those working in the medical community.

But sometimes the abuse/assault that a patient endures by being stripped and left unnecessarily exposed isn’t enough. Others want to join in on the fun too. What compels these pathetic excuses for humans to torture and abuse defenseless, ill patients? In my husband’s case, more and maybe the worse was yet to come after he survived his time in the cath lab. The patient room is another place where assault can silently happen. My husband was kept isolated from his family. They knew he had family waiting but they were having too much fun sexually assaulting him. We were left wondering and waiting on a Sunday morning until around 4am as to what had happened. Night shifts especially weekends are prime times for abuse because the hospital runs on a smaller staff and restricts visitation.

His nurse, Feather Wench, left him exposed to the eyes of IT workers, blood techs, and anyone else who might have been in the vicinity during that time. My husband remembers parts. He remembers the laughter in the room. He remember being told he needed to urinate into the bedpan in front of the crowd of IT techs or else Finch would foley cath him. He remembers feeling demeaned but remembers he didn’t have the engery or willpower to do anything. If he had not been so very severely drugged, he normally would have defended himself. But Finch knew he couldn’t. Maybe the cath lab told her she could have fun with him. Who knows? There was even a social worker nurse present during much of the sexual abuse? She asked him while she was actually sexually abusing him if his spouse sexually abused him. How sick this social worker nurse was. I call her Hen St. Pawn. She had to known what was happening was wrong as that is part of their training to spot sexual abuse. However, she was complicit in committing sexual abuse. There was no medical reason for my husband to have been made to lay with his penis and testicles exposed for 5 hours. Morally and ethically it was wrong to make my husband urinate 3 times in front of people for entertainment. This assault took place in a Catholic hospital on a Sunday–a holy day. The Catholic hospital appears to condone this abuse as they have done nothing about it.

So what does this say about medical workers? It says there is a problem because not one of them tried to protect my husband. Although Finch was the one who initiated the assault in the patient room and St. Pawn helped her continue it, none of the others who witnessed it stopped it nor did they report it. They are as guilty as Finch and St. Pawn. My husband continues to have nightmares about being sexually tortured wondering why he was chosen. He also wonders if he would ever be hospitalized again if he would again be under the care of a sexual predator? Apparently, they are a thriving class of medical workers who are protected both by administration and their co-workers. The only one they will not protect is the patient and that is the one they take an oath to protect and to do no harm to but since they patient is drugged with a drug that causes their memories to be erased, they don’t think it is really harm. After all, most patients will not remember those few hours of hell. That is why they are drugged.

The medical system in the United States seems not to care about an individual’s personal dignity or value as a person. My husband was not asked to remove his own clothes nor did they ask if they could remove his clothes. They just stripped him as they knew the fentanyl would prevent him from resisting and also because of the fentanyl they knew they did not need his permission because he was high. Because of the fentanyl, they also knew they did not have to cover him. They did not care about his value as a human being but rather they did not have to follow standard textbook procedures of covering him in a gown or sheet before exposing his genital area. He arrived without a shirt on so putting a gown on him would have been easy. Covering him with a sheet as they or he pulled off his lower garments would have also been easy. It is standard procedure per textbooks and many heart cath sites to cover the gential area to maintain patient privacy and dignity. They did not nor did they seem to care. They left him totally exposed before and after the procedure. Asking and getting his permission, keeping exposure to a minimum, and not allowing unnecessary personnel to be present when patient genitals are exposed is what constitutes proper practices. What was done to my husband in the cath lab constitutes not only sexual assault but medical assault as he did not give consent to having the procedure done as he was high from the drugs.

Once he arrived in the patient room, he was again sexually assaulted. It was not necessary to leave him totally exposed. It was inhumane to expose him to all present but it was also inhumane to require him to urinate in front of all present too. It is part of a nurse’s oath to protect the patient in her care. Feather Wench was intentionally cruel and abusive. She and the other nurse knew exactly what they were doing as the other nurse asked him questions like was he sexually abused by his spouse while she was actually participating in sexually abusing him. He remembers them laughing constantly. There are methods that a nurse can use to not expose a patient’s genitals during sheathe examinations. Wench had been a nurse for 10 or so years graduating from a university in Indianapolis. She knew exactly what kind of abuse she was inflicting on a man who was clearly still deeply affected from to what amounted in his individual case of being given too many drugs. Remember, he had told the first hospital that he is deeply and profoundly affected by drugs. He relied on them to protect him by giving them that information. He had no idea that giving a medical provider such important information would allow them to use it against him.

I read an article written by a doctor in which he stated no patient should be left alone without having their advocate present while hospitalized. The hospital my husband was in made every effort to make sure he was isolated while he drugged. Feather Wench kept him isolated and in her control for over 2 hours until we finally was able to flag down the other nurse although she was headed in the opposite direction from us. Once inside his patient room, Feather Wench told us we were outside of visiting hours and needed to leave. That was a lie. Being new to having someone in CCU, we believed her. We did not know he could have someone with him at all times. Feather Wench wanted him isolated so her fun could continue and it did until her shift was over.

The damage done to us by what happened can never be erased or go away. It is a worry that invades each day with what if he or anyone we care about would be hospitalized? How can we prevent abuse/assault from happening again? Because of the drugs, he was forced to become their victim. He suffered through the torment and wasn’t able to stop it. Drugs mess with both your physical and mental abilities especially the drugs that can be used for “date rape.” Both and especially in combination, fentanyl and versed can make anyone a victim of date rape. Some may remember all of what happens, some may remember part of what happens, and some may remember none. My husband remembers part of what happened. He fears for what he doesn’t remember. I saw Wench abusing him but didn’t make the connection until the next day after some of the shock wore off. The next day, he too realized what happened after he had recovered some from the effects of the drugs. For anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, it is a memory that will not go away.

So basically, any time the genital or breasts are not the subject of the procedure or surgery, they should not be exposed. There are garments made to be worn during surgery to eliminate exposure. If they are exposed, that in my opinion, constitutes sexual assault. Sexual assault is done for the benefit of the person in power to harm a person who is defenseless. Anyone who may become a patient needs to be educated as what could happen once you do become a patient. While a patient, you are at risk for sexual assault at any time by any medical worker for any reason. To drive home the risks, I read a blog remark by a doctor stating perhaps a female nursing resident of child-bearing years who is comatose should be put on birth control to avoid becoming pregnant. This is how a defenseless patient should be protected? The sexual assault can happen but lets make sure she doesn’t become pregnant so the assaults can happen over and over again without any consequences? His attitude was not how should the patient be protected from becoming a victim, how to deter or punish such crimes but make further endanger the victim by giving them birth control pills so there is no pregnancy. Typical medical community reaction of not admitting there is an issue and how to correctly deal with it. Protecting the patient is not their first concern but rather protecting themselves and their co-workers are of upmost importance. Their slogan of “Do No Harm” only applies to themselves avoiding the consequences of their harming a patient.

Medical workers are taught in their educational process how to preserve and protect a patient’s dignity/modesty. Unfortunately, for way too many, it is not important especially with the use of drugs such as versed and fentanyl that makes patients unable to defend themselves against improper sexual exposure. Medical personnel should always protect their patients so that intimate exposure is not traumatic for the patient and is limited as to done only when absolutely necessary and with only necessary personnel present. No audiences such as sales reps unless agreed upon by the patient before they are drugged. Otherwise it should be a hard “no”. It is not even a fine line between what constitutes sexual abuse and what constitutes sexual assault. It is a very clear line as you can see from happened to my husband. We, as all of us are potential patients, should fight for the right to have our modesty/dignity protected. There are several methods in which that can be done. All patient contact should have audio recordings. All medical personnel or persons in attendance with the patient should be clearly identified. All patients should have their own personally chosen advocate present during any medical encounter whether it be a doctor’s office visit, an ER visit, or even surgery. It can be done as they even allow middle school students to shadow in surgery. Any time a patient could be exposed needs to have protection built in for the patient. Most hospitals have video recordings that are for their use only. They will not share these with the patient. Read your consent form and you will find out you are giving them the right to video you. However, you do not have access to this video and you do not have control over how this video is used or by whom it can be seen by. There is a very excellent website www.patientmodesty.com that has a lot information which can help you navigate this maze of issues in patient modesty/dignity. Be proactive and help prevent yourself or someone you love from becoming a victim. It may not be 100% possible to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault in medical care but at least you will know that you tried.

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