Gender Care Discrimination Against Male Patients

Something that is not addressed is that male patients are discriminated against in same sex gender care options. Options—there are none. Over 90% of hospital staff are female. In some areas of the US, that may be even higher. For years, men have had to suffer through having no option for same gender care even the court system says every patient is entitled to same gender care for intimate procedures. How many male nurses do you see in L&D? How many male mammographers do you see? However, for males needing a prostatic ultrasound, most likely the tech will be a female. If male ob-gyn attends to a female patient, then most likely a chaperone will be used and that chaperone will be female. However, for male urologist who attend a male patient that chaperone will be a female. Most males feel ambushed and/or violated by having a female present who just basically watches the exam.The intimate exam is also done differently. A female is generally told by the female nurse to remove all clothing and change into a gown and the doctor will return for the exam. The nurse leaves the room as the female patient changes. The doctor enters and usually there is a drape put into place and the nurse stands to the side if she is present. Once the exam is done, they leave and the patient cleans up and dresses before any talk is initiated.For male patients that I have spoken to their exam happens very differently. The doctor enters with a female audience member. He will be told to remove his shirt in front of them and can put it back on once the doctor is done. Next, the doctor generally tells them to drop his pants and underwear around his ankles while standing in front of the doctor. He does the frontal exam as the female audience just stands and watches. The patient is then told to turn around and bend over usually the exam table all the while looking like an awkward clown trying not to trip on his pants/underwear around his ankles. Afterwards he is told to clean up and pull up his clothes all the while with the audience present.The paints a very vivid difference in how some healthcare aspects are delivered differently to male and female patients. There is a glaring difference in the compassionate and bodily privacy respect aspect between the two genders. Many males find this routine to be totally degrading. I, as a female, would not tolerate it. Many males do not seek healthcare because they do feel violated.The medical “professional” will say things like “we have seen it all before”, “you don’t have something I haven’t seen before”, “suck it up”, or other things that do nothing to reassure a patient. In fact, dismissing a patient’s requirement for personal dignity does nothing but make the situation worse. Of course, it is not an issue for the medical person as they are not the one being exposed. Furthermore, it is an issue for many of them as they seek their healthcare elsewhere as many of them feel uncomfortable having their genitals exposed to their co-workers so it does not matter them. But for you, it doesn’t matter.For in-hospital male patients, most intimate care will be delivered by a female staff member. Sometimes because they have no compassion or respect for your personal dignity, they will bring along another member to chat with as you are being exposed. Because your exposure only matters to you is the message they are sending. They don’t care. Not caring, is why they make not draw the curtain or only uncover areas as needed. Some female nurses also get a thrill of power and control when lording over a defenseless male patient. What many patients do not know is you are in control of your body. Not them. You have the right to say who is involved in your treatment and the extent of their involvement. If you want same gender care, then every effort must be made to provide it to you. If not, perhaps your spouse or someone of your choosing can do it for you. If you are having surgery scheduled, you have the right to request a same gender care team. The hospital is obligated to let you know if they can so you can choose to proceed or not. Inappropriate sexual actions do not just happen to female patients by male doctors/staff. Male patients can be sexually assaulted by female staff. In the age of #MeToo, there seems to be an anger towards men that can very easily be transferred to male patients especially if they are drugged by sedation. Female staff have been in media stories for taking pictures with their personal cell phones of male patient’s genitals, other sexual acts, nurse humiliating a drugged male patient by having him unnecessarily exposed and forcing him to use a bedpan and being wiped like a baby in front of her chosen audience members, etc. However, for male patients it is very difficult to prove these accusations because society as a whole has not caught up. Many do not believe a female nurse would assault a male patient but in turn they would believe a male nurse would assault a female patient. This type of attitude makes this type of assault grow and flourish because they know they can get away with it. While the system is not perfect in preventing assault of female patients, at least they recourse avenue is somewhat better. For males, there is no recourse and discrimination against male patients seems to be totally acceptable. In fact, government, law enforcement, the general public, and the medical industry seems to be complicit in keeping the discriminatory practices against males patients alive and well.

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 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.