A couple of offensive accounts about doctors being disrespectful behind their unconscious patients’ back and the inability of low-level employees to take a stand against it depicts a “dark side” of the medical profession.
The authors of the two accounts, which were recently published as an essay in the Annals of Internal Medicine, hope that by exposing such practices they may grant other employees the courage to speak up when things go awry in the operating room.
Authors wrote in their paper that they decided to publish the two accounts to show doctors that such behaviors are unacceptable by most members of society and they should not be tolerated.
“We should not only refrain from personally acting in such a manner but also call out our colleagues who do,”
the two researchers wrote.
In the first account, an unnamed author recalls when he was training medical students and asked a simple question. He was curious to learn whether those students had a grudge on a doctor and they were unable to forgive that doctor for what he did.
One of the students said that there was something he could not forget nor forgive. He recalled helping a doctor perform a hysterectomy, a medical procedure designed to remove a woman’s uterus via her vagina. The woman was unconscious, but while the surgeon was anesthetizing the woman’s inner tights, he winked at the medical student and told him that the woman probably enjoyed it.
The medical students said he felt a lot of rage flowing through his veins but he couldn’t tell the doctor a thing. He said that that was disrespectful to both the woman and him who was just trying to learn medicine from a guy that virtually acted like a “dirtball.”
When the medical student was asked whether he spoke out against that behavior or went along with the bad joke, the student admitted that he pretended being amused and laughed, as well. When he asked his mentor whether he had experienced a similar situation, the teacher and author of the accounts admitted that a similar thing happened to him when he was a medical student.
He recalled he aided a doctor deliver a baby girl. But seconds after delivery, the new mom’s uterus couldn’t stop bleeding. An obstetrician was called to help the Hispanic patient who displayed symptoms of uterine atony. The doctor anesthetized the woman to be able to reach her uterus and massage it to stop the bleeding.
The procedure was successful but the doctor with his left hand still placed in the woman’s vagina started humming and dancing ‘La Cucaracha.’ The medical student admitted that he went along with the offensive joke until an anesthesiologist yelled at them to knock it off.
Editors of the two accounts noted that both incidents were disrespectful, misogynistic, while the last one was also racist, but other health professionals chose to remain silent or even went along with their superior’s joke.
They hope that by publishing such stories physicians would have the courage to not not tolerate such outrageous behaviors in the operating rooms.
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