Did you happen to see this news article? It reported on the orthopedic surgeon who gave his patient (female) a temporary tattoo as he put it "to lighten their spirits". I ran this by the crew I worked with in the OR this morning and didn't give them all the details, just this:
"Did you guys hear the news report of the orthopedic surgeon who did a lumbar procedure on a woman and then put a temporary tattoo on her lower abdomen, in the panty region? The patient found it when she went to get dressed in front of her husband. She was reportedly very emotionally traumatized by it."
All of them had somehow missed this news item. Questions came.
"Did he know this person? I mean were they friends outside of the professional relationship?"
"Was the surgeon and patient joking about tattoos in the pre-op?"
"How much is she suing for?"
"The other members of the OR crew allowed him to do this?!"
In the end we all agreed that this was not appropriate for the surgeon to do. My crew would have felt comfortable to have pointed this out to me (had I foolishly tried to do such a thing).
I do not in any terms want to "justify" this behavior, but neither do I think that what these two blog sites and their commenters (here and here) are doing with this incident is appropriate either. It is unfair to "lump" all physicians or all surgeons in a group with this one.
I ran across a post on "A Doctor's Touch" yesterday. It is worth reading the entire posts and it's comments. I think that most of us physicians/surgeons try to do just this with both "touch" and "interaction".
In conclusion, as you can see, a doctor’s touch is an action which, if used wisely and professionally can provide a variety of benefits from psychological to diagnostic. Also, you can see that touch is missing when the doctor-patient relationship involves phone, video or e-mail communication. It is understandable why we who teach medical students stress touch as an important medical tool in its many ways. ..Maurice.
It's the wisely and more importantly the professionally that stands out for me in the above paragraph. I try to keep things professional. I try to treat each patient with respect. Read these wonderful blogs by fellow surgeons and you will quickly see that many of us are in awe that patients place their trust in us.
Someonetc (an orthopedic attending)