Monday, July 28, 2008

"If they did to men what they do to women in hospitals every day, it would be illegal."

(This was a post from back in April. Warning: There is some language in this post. This was definitely more of a venting post than anything else. ;) )

"If they did to men what they do to women in hospitals every day, it would be illegal." ...

... Well, at least they'd get a shot at a lawsuit anyway.

Forced Rectal Exam Stirs Ethics Questions

By Sewell Chan

Under what circumstances can a patient in an emergency room be forced to submit to a procedure that doctors deem to be medically necessary? That question — and the notion of informed consent — is at the heart of a civil case that is about to go to trial in March in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Brian Persaud, a 38-year-old construction worker who lives in Brooklyn, asserts that he was forced to undergo a rectal examination after sustaining a head injury in an on-the-job accident at a Midtown construction site on May 20, 2003. Mr. Persaud was taken to the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he received eight stitches to his head.

According to a lawsuit he later filed, Mr. Persaud was then told that he needed an immediate rectal examination to determine whether he had a spinal-cord injury. He adamantly objected to the procedure, he said, but was held down as he begged, “Please don’t do that.” As Mr. Persaud resisted, he freed one of his hands and struck a doctor, according to the suit. Then he was sedated, the suit says, with a breathing tube inserted through his mouth.

After Mr. Persaud regained consciousness, he was arrested, then taken — still in his hospital gown — to be booked on a misdemeanor assault charge. Gerard M. Marrone, who was Mr. Persaud’s lawyer, got the criminal charges dropped, then helped Mr. Persaud file a civil lawsuit against the hospital.

Psychologically, it changed his life completely,” Mr. Marrone said of the episode. “He hasn’t been able to work. He has absolutely no trust in the system at all: doctors or the police. He has post-traumatic stress syndrome.” Mr. Persaud has been under the care of a psychiatrist who made the diagnosis, Mr. Marrone said.

Look at that. A MAN gets assaulted by a physician, and everyone rallies against this travesty. Is he called crazy for then being mistrusting of the medical or legal system? Nope. Outcries are heard from men! "How dare they do a procedure against consent!" In a Law Blog on, Peter Lattman writes:

The question presented deals with the sticky issue of informed consent: “Under what circumstances can a patient in an emergency room be forced to submit to a procedure that doctors deem to be medically necessary?”

And the comments for the post?

-This is a horrible story, and I hope I never ever have to go to a hospital for any reason other than to visit a sick friend. Who do these doctors think they are?

-this guy was just plain assaulted by the arrogant doctors and should be compensated for that.

-I hope Mr. Persaud wins his lawsuit. He was the victim of battery.

-I am so appalled by this situation. I hate frivolous lawsuits, but I am totally behind this guy and hope he wins by a landslide.He voluntarily walked into a hospital to get stitches in his head. He had every right to refuse a rectal exam, and the hospital should have had him sign a release form saying he refused a recommended treatment (standard procedure).

-Can you imagine going into a doctors office or hospital and then finding yourself held down and forced to undergo some procedure? Even if it was less invasive, it’s completely outrageous.

-what happened to “informed consent”??

-the fact is, if someone does not want a medical procedure (even if it will save their life) then they should have the option to refuse that medical procedure and die on their own terms.

So then I pose this question. Would it be different if men regularly had things inserted into their rectum? Would it have been different if this man were gay? What I would like to know, is how forced vaginal exams on women do not get the same reaction? Is it not physical assault because things are regularly inserted into the vagina? A tampon, a partner's penis, a speculum, a sex toy? Is it really seen as less of a harm done, if it's done to a woman? It certainly seems so. But maybe the problem lies with the women. I can't say that I've personally EVER seen of a news story where a woman has drawn up a lawsuit for a forced vaginal exam in labor. Or at any point in her life, other than actual sexual rape. And by all means...if someone has a story, *please* email it to me! But back to the point...maybe if women stopped being so damn passive about what happens in the hospitals, or just shrugs it off as "That's what they do", maybe we'd make changes.

But that would take strength. And I don't see that from many childbearing women right now. I see a whole lot of weakness, a whole lot of complacency. Women either not caring what happens, or they're too worried about their drugs in labor to care what happens, or being too afraid of speaking up. WOMEN!!! This is going to get us NOWHERE.

Now. I want to be clear. I am NOT placing the blame solely with women. I personally know that when you contact a lawyer for a case of medical abuse/negligence/etc in the medical setting, that it's pretty much a no-go unless there was permanent "damage". And unfortunately, they don't consider PTSD or anxiety as a result, as "damage". Someone physically has to be damaged. It has to be tangible. I've been there, done that. And it's frustrating as hell. I had my medical records doctored, so that the doctor covered her own ass. *I* was the liar. I'm just wondering if the hundreds of thousands of us to give birth each year actually banded together and took a freaking stand against this stuff...would things possibly change? Would we have hope? But that goes full circle back to women needing to care. With the high c-section rate out there, with as many celebrities that we have opting for this to save their beautiful vaginas, with as many as 85% of women CHOOSING to numb their bodies in childbirth...I just don't see this happening. Until more of us get pissed off enough to stay out of the hospital to begin with ( WHY do women run back to the person who raped them? ) and stay away from trained surgeon for NORMAL birth, I'm afraid not a damn thing will be changed.

I started a birth rape site, in case I haven't mentioned it on here. Go take a look at some of the stories that I've posted...Mary and Jazmin's in particular. The thing is, assault happens to women in birth ALL the time. Whether the women who are assaulted, know it or not. A blog that I came across today, Giselle's Total Waste of Bandwidth, she wrote out some of the definitions of physical and sexual assault:

For instance, here's some definitions from The U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women. One specific definition of sexual assault includes "Unwanted vaginal, anal, or oral penetration with any object".

Here's some comments from the above site about consent. "In general, state law assumes that a person does not consent to sexual activity if he or she is forced, threatened, unconscious, drugged, a minor, developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, or believe they are undergoing a medical procedure." "Perpetrators of sexual assault can be strangers, friends, acquaintances, or family members. Often, perpetrators commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure, or tricks." And my favorite: "More often, however, sexual assault involves psychological coercion and taking advantage of an individual who is incapacitated or under duress and, therefore, is incapable of making a decision on his or her own."

Funny, because isn't one of the leading reasons for vaginal exams done starting at 36 weeks, to see if a woman's body is "working"? "I need to see if your body has begun the process of opening up for the baby.", "I need to make sure your pelvic outlet is big enough to let this baby through WITHOUT HARMING HIM.", "I see your labored breathing, the way your body is swaying, and your inability to speak...but I need to make sure you're actually in labor.", "I don't think you're progressing. We might need to do a c-section."

What does this turn women into?

Please doctor, put your hand inside of my vagina. Can you please tell me if my body is working? Can you please tell me if my body is big enough to birth the baby that I've spent 10 months growing? I'm having contractions, that I know don't fit the pattern of TRUE preterm labor, but please put your hand in my vagina to find out if I'm right about my own body or not.

So because of this, women who actually refuse these exams are seen as crazy, fanatics, or combative. "Not behaving." Why would we be seen as normal, since most other women spread their legs easily without batting an eye?

In Jazmin's story, she had a nurse repeatedly JAM her fingers into Jazmin's clitoris, while Jazmin was screaming "NO!". Jazmin was laboring on her knees, leaning on the back of the lifted hospital bed. In this position, the nurse kept trying because Jazmin was starting to grunt with contractions, and the nurse said she HAD to check her to see if she was complete. Despite Jazmin saying no. Maybe it was the fact that Jazmin was only 16. Maybe this was just a bad day for the nurse. Regardless of what the circumstances were...this was flat out assault. It took Jazmin grabbing the nurses hand and yelling "I SAID NO!" for her to stop. Jazmin cried for weeks over this assault. Her fiance did nothing, because the hospital was the "authority". No one else did anything, because she was seen as being combative.

The man in the forced rectal exam story may not have won the case. But you know what? He caused a stir in people, questioning ethics when it comes to "informed consent". Why aren't women causing a stir? My blog, and the blogs and sites of other women who are sick and tired of the abuse...only reach so far.

When will it stop? When will women stand up? When will they be HEARD?

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