Anonymous essay in medical journal raises concerns

Friday August 21, 2015

A recent essay in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has raised concerns about the professionalism of some physicians. The physician who penned the piece is described by the editor-in-chief of the journal as having a medical school affiliation. His name was signed to the essay, but it was decided by the journal staff that it would be best if it was published anonymously.

What would cause this medical journal to keep the author’s identity a secret? It’s the accusations made within the essay. The physician, who is a professor, told of many instances where doctors have disrespected patients while they were under the effects of anesthesia. For example, one woman who started hemorrhaging after giving birth was given manual uterine massage and rescue drug. While the doctor’s hand was still inside the woman, he started dancing and singing “La Cucaracha” until an anesthesiologist told him to stop.

Another woman was anesthetized and naked in surgery when the surgeon said, “I’ll bet she’s enjoying this.” The medical student who was assisting with the surgery was appalled, but echoed the surgeon’s laughter — albeit, nervously. There were many more stories of this type of abhorrent behavior.

These instances are not unique. Recently, a jury in Fairfax County, Virginia, awarded a patient $500,000 after an anesthesiologist insulted and mocked a patient who was having a colonoscopy done. The woman’s cellphone recorded the comments. Johns Hopkins Health System settled a case where a gynecologist had secretly been recording and photographing patients.

The president of the American Medical Student Association said that according to medical licensing boards, there are more complaints for lack of professionalism filed against doctors than for medical malpractice.

These instances may be more common than most physicians would like to admit. Many have seen — at some point in their careers — a colleague act in an unprofessional manner. Medical students, nurses, residents and others often feel vulnerable and frightened at the prospect of saying anything against a physician.

If you believe you have suffered because of the unprofessionalism of your physician, then it’s time to seek some answers. An attorney experienced in medical malpractice can provide straightforward advice on how to proceed.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, “Misogynistic Doctor Behavior Sparks Ethics Concerns,” Steve Sternberg, Aug. 17, 2015

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