Healthcare is Sick!

The other day my husband went to the cardiologist. As he will not go to any medical alone, I was with him during the entire appointment. Otherwise, he will not go or stay. Things got off to a rocky start after they wanted him to sign a HIPAA waiver form giving them permission to do with his personal/medical information whatever they chose according to HIPAA. After having been through filing a HIPAA complaint, we now know the government is complicit in allowing healthcare providers to abuse, leak, distribute, etc. your information in any manner they want. HIPAA is only interested in cases where a lot of people have been affected and only about it becomes public knowledge. Otherwise, they have no issue in the misuse of your information.

He was led to the scale and then put into a room. After the questions, she took his blood pressure. He has never had high blood pressure nor does he take medicine for high blood press. It was sky-high because he was uncomfortable with her manner and having her so close to him without asking or explaining her actions. To make matters worse, next the female MA told him to strip from the waist up. He just looked ill and instantly looked at me. I knew he was like a deer in the headlights being taken back to that time at Rancidcan when he was sexually and medically assaulted. (Rancidcan is a catholic hospital in Indianapolis that I have changed the name of because they are a very aggressive group of people.)

First, let me explain. Most would think that a man removing his shirt is no big deal. But it is for a man who was sexually molested. If you think about the language used during medical encounters you begin to see how they gain control and power. This MA didn’t ask him to remove his shirt. She didn’t explain why before she demanded he strip from the waist up. He was sitting on the exam table. He would have had to gotten down and climbed back up. He didn’t know it at that time but she wanted him to lay down too. She hadn’t told him why either but I could see her heading towards the portable EKG.

Although he knew what he was supposed to do, he froze. He was visibly upset and I knew it but I was waiting to so if he would defend himself. He froze so I interfered. I asked her if she hadn’t read in his file that is a victim of medical/sexual abuse/assault from medical personnel in a hospital? She said there was nothing in his file. I told her we had repeatedly requested it be put in his file as this an extremely important part of his medical history. I also told her the American Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes the mental trauma from sexual abuse/assault as a part of its ADA. My husband sat there froze in place. I went on to tell her she needed to use Trauma Informed Consent when dealing with any victim of sexual abuse/assault. Her attitude instantly changed during this speech. She went from ordering, demanding to one of sugar couldn’t been more sweeter or considerate.

Because I could see the EKG she was preparing to use wasn’t the normal 3 lead, I asked her how many leads and why. She replied it was a ten lead and in her 3 1/2 months of being there, that was the only EKG she had used. So apparently they had gotten rid of the 3 lead. The 10 ten requires much more placement and exposed skin. However, it does not require a man to be shirtless. I then asked if it was the same for a female patient. Were they told to strip from the waist up with her present? Or did she give them a gown and leave while they changed?

Of course, it was different for a female patient. They weren’t told to strip from the waist up and yes, they were given a gown. I don’t imagine most females would put up with even having another female present while they hopped down from the exam table, stripped from the waist up, hopped back on the table, and laid down without a gown or sheet.

As I said, her attitude changed once I told her he was a victim of medical/sexual assault and she should have been using trauma informed care standards. But why wasn’t this information in his record? We had asked them twice before to have in inserted so he would not have to suffer through all the drama and trauma with office visit.

Better yet–why do they not use trauma informed care standards on all patients? Why do they especially the female staff in dealing with male patients think it is perfectly acceptable to trample on a male patient’s right to personal dignity? Why do all medical people think when in dealing with most patients it is acceptable to use a paternalistic language pattern and mannerisms? They know the difference as this MA clearly illustrated.

She apologized over and over. She was very careful to explain and even looked at me for permission. She said she would make sure it got into his file. She left and knocked as she returned to say she had personally inserted it into his file. How long it will stay is the question? One thing is clear, most people do not acknowledge that male patients can and are sexually assaulted in medical settings.

So why is there this myth that even in today’s world of #MeToo that women do not or cannot have feelings or commit actions of sexual misconduct. I do believe women have the ability as witnessed by what I saw happening to my husband and by what he remembers happening to him. Sexual assault does not have to be physical penetration. Sexual assault is defined as someone in power or control exerting that power and/or control in a sexual manner over someone who is defenseless or unable to protect themselves. Sexual assault is about power and control and women do seek power and control. In fact, in today’s world that are more outspoken and vocal about feeling men have for too long had power and control. Why the assault was done to him is a mystery–was it because this catholic hospital has an undercurrent that staff knows supports them in abusing/assaulting gay, married men (remember because the other hospital must have thought it would be funny to label him as such sending him to a catholic hospital known to denounce LGBTQ issues as he did not want to transfer to one of their hospitals), was it because some the women (the 4 cath lab heifers) have issues with men and decide some men will suffer the ills of all men, was it because of where we live and what they thought our politics were, was it they just have a lottery for who they are going to abuse/assault and his number was drawn, or was something else. It really doesn’t matter why it was done but rather they did it. There had no reason that can justify what they did. (However, I wouldn’t mind reading about one them traveling to North Korea and having horrific things done to them courtesy of North Korea because all involved whether they actually took part or was as guilty by witnessing and not helping or reporting it deserve to be in North Korea.)

The interesting thing is the doctor took his blood pressure and it was back to in the low normal range which is where it generally is. The doctor, without prompting, said the difference is in all people because when they first get it taken they have been walking so it is higher. Me being me had to give him a much needed correction so I said it was because the MA had not respected his personal dignity as it should have been in his records that he is a victim of medical/sexual abuse. I could see the doctor as he turned towards me smirk. If he could have read my mind, he would have been very offended as I just thought he was a stupid moron who needed education because surely he is lacking. However, my husband had already been upset enough so I just explained that even if he didn’t agree with the reality that people even females in medical settings do sexually assault patients and in this case, a male patient, they should accord each and every patient personal dignity and respect. I went on to share with him brochures from MedicalPatientModesty.com on modesty and male modesty. I went on to ask to set me up with hospital representatives such as chaplains and patient advocates as there seem to be a need for some additional education opportunities. I was proud of myself for not saying what I wanted to say but rather toward the higher road to I could pee upon him.

But one thing remains clear–healthcare and how it is delivered is ill. The people in healthcare are not going to admit to it being ill so they will not fix it unless the public forces them. It will be a tough fight because as of now, they hold most of the cards. There are so many different issues that need repaired in the healthcare system. This is why I write this blog. Abuses/assaults, indignities, discrimination, etc we suffer during our quest to receive healthcare should no longer be silent. If we speak up, others will become aware and things will change because they will be forced to change them.