Our goal is to help patients to stand up for
their rights and get the modesty they wish. Don't be afraid
to stand up and speak up about how much modesty you want and
if you want an all same gender medical team to treat you. Before
you have surgery, you should find out how much clothes they
want you to take off. There was a man who had a wrist reconstruction
surgery and he chose to keep his pants on. He told the doctors
and nurses that they better not take his pants off and they
respected his wishes. There was no reason for him to take his
pants off for this surgery because they only worked on his wrist.
Be firm when you tell the medical team about your modesty needs.
Be sure you ask who all will be involved in the operating room.
Remember that there will be at least one doctor who will be
doing the surgery, at least one nurse, scrub, and anesthetist.
There might be some medical students or residents of the opposite
sex present and you need to speak up if you don't want them
present. One man was asked to take his underwear off for knee
surgery and he was humiliated. There is actually no reason for
people to take their underwear off for knee surgery. We
encourage you to check out tips for ob/gyn
patients and urology patients.
For colonoscopies, you need to ask them for an all same gender
team if that's your wish ahead of time.
Don't be afraid to speak up. It doesn't matter
if the doctors or nurses give you a hard time about this. Be
firm about your modesty needs. It is wise to have a friend or
family member to advocate for what you want.
For intimate procedures such as pap smears, prostate
tests, etc., you should always demand that the door stay closed
and that they put a sign on the door that says don't disturb.
Sometimes, nurses or other medical professionals will walk in
the room during procedures. There have been cases where the
door was opened and other people in the lobby or hallway could
see some private parts of a patient. You can tell the doctor
that you do not want any of his/her staff to come in the room
while being examined and you are holding him or her responsible
for your privacy according to your patient's rights. Let the
doctor know this politely yet firmly that no person will be
permitted to enter without your consent. Another good tactic
is that when you go to the doctor with your spouse; have them
position themselves by the door acting as a block to the door
If you had a case where you felt your modesty
was violated, you should write a letter to the hospital/doctor's
office or the doctor. This will increase the chance of doctors
and hospitals to become more sensitive to how important modesty
is even in medical settings. A particular man has to go to a
dermatologist every year because he had skin cancer on his ear
last year. He chose a male dermatologist of course because he
knew he would be checked all over. You can find a letter he
wrote to the dermatologist after a bad experience below.
Letter Man Wrote to Doctor:
On June , 2009 I had an appointment with you for a skin exam
at your ____________ __ location. As you are aware I was very
upset and disturbed by some of the incidents that happened to
me that morning at your office. We talked about some of the
incidents while I was in a numb and shocked state. I have had
time to think about what happened that day and I need to let
you know for the record what my feelings are. When It came time
for me to get called back from the waiting room I was taken
to an exam room and a very nice lady asked me some health questions.
I told her that i had had Basal Cell Carcinoma on my ear and
that I needed to get my skin checked. She then instructed me
that I needed to take off everything but my "boxers".
First of all I need to ask you Doctor ____________ how does
your staff members know what type of underwear I wear? The proper
statement should have been "take off everything but your
underwear" with no reference to type. This may seem trivial
to you but if the situation was reversed and it was a male nurse
asking a female patient to take off everything but her bra and
thong I am sure something would be said! Second incident: No
gown was offered to me to cover myself. Here I am standing in
my "BRIEFS" doing what I could to protect my privacy
and you did the proper thing and knock and waited until I said
"come in" BUT to my shock, humiliation and embarrassment
a woman walks right in with you. When I spoke up and told you
that I could not permit "her" to be in the room that
is when she left and our conversation began about my beliefs
and privacy and dignity concerns. There was no reason she had
to be in the room with us! After we talked and I calmed down
you said that you would like to continue with the exam. I was
on the exam table and I could not believe what happened next.
A knock comes on the door and in a split second without giving
you or me a chance to say "come in" the door opens
and another nurse is standing there. You did jump quickly to
the door and tried to block her view, but she did see me on
the table in my "BRIEFS". A KNOCK ON THE DOOR IS NOT
PERMISSION TO ENTER! WE WAIT UNTIL WE ARE TOLD TO ENTER, THEN
WE COME IN. What if you were examining my genitals when she
walked in? The entire morning caused me mental and emotional
trauma. Why am I writing this letter? I am writing this letter
because I think you are a good doctor, yet there are some procedures
and practices at your facility that I believe need to be corrected.
* When men or women are told to take off all of their clothes
except their underwear, don't assume what type they wear. Just
say "underwear" NOT briefs, boxers, thong, bikini.
* When a person is asked to undress to their underwear, offer
them a gown.
*The nurse who gathers the medical information before you come
into the room can let the patient know that a nurse will be
assisting you. Ask the patient if he is comfortable with that.
DON'T ASSUME! DO NOT SURPRISE PEOPLE AND PUT THEM IN AN AWKWARD
SITUATION. Many men may have a skin concern on their private
area and because a female is in the room he may not discuss
that with you. If the patient knows that a female assistant
is going to be in the room, he can ask to see the doctor in
private first. Or he may have the same convictions I have and
not want a female in the room while he is in his underwear.
Some men also get aroused very quickly and the presence of a
woman in the room, while he is in his underwear or nude may
cause him to get an involuntary erection that may be very embarrassing
* Teach your staff that just because they knock on the door
does not mean they have the "right" to enter until
the person on the inside says "come in"
Your written response to this letter stating
the corrective actions your practice will take in regard to
the incidents cited will allow me to return to your office knowing
that respect for my personal privacy and dignity will be provided
during visits to your facility. If no response is given from
your office then I will assume that these violations of privacy
are not important to your practice and I will seek another Dermatologist
who does care about a person's dignity, privacy and respect.
Doctor's Response To Letter:
Dear Mr. ________
Thank you very much for your letter. I read it carefully and
thought very deeply about your concerns and all of the points
I would like to apologize for your negative experience during
your recent visit.
We have discussed in detail the incidents surrounding your
visit. The following corrective measures have been implemented.
All assistants, during the intake interview, are now clearly
asking each patient whether he or she would be comfortable with
having an assistant present during the examination. If the patient
prefers to not have an assistant present, a sign that reads
"Physician Only - MA's Do Not Enter" is placed on
the door so that privacy will be maintained throughout the visit.
Assistants also have been reminded that gowns should be offered
to all patients (this has always been our policy).
Thank you again for your correspondence. If you choose not
to return here, please try to be seen by another dermatologist
on a regular basis given your history of Basal Cell Carcinoma
and actinic keratosis. If you have additional concerns please
do not hesitate to contact me.