Although the Hippocratic Oath is named after the Father of Modern medicine, not all modern doctors respect and follow its words.
There are many stories that reveal how many doctors have deviated away from the oath they had to promise to follow when becoming doctors. But two recent shocking accounts of doctors behaving badly have drawn attention to the profession. These particular situations found that while their patients were under the influence of anesthetic drugs, doctors chose not to follow their oath, according to the Weekly Observer.
“By shining a light on this dark side of the profession, we emphasize to physicians young and old that this behavior is unacceptable — we should not only refrain from personally acting in such a manner but also call out our colleagues who do,” the editors said.
These two accounts were published anonymously in a medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, in order to encourage health professionals to speak up when they see inappropriate behavior.
An anonymous author revealed that one day while teaching a medical humanities class to attending medical students he asked, “Do any of you have someone to forgive from your clinical experiences? Did anything ever happen that you need to forgive or perhaps still can’t forgive?”
One of the students spoke up and shared that something happened to him personally he could never forgive. He explained that once while helping with a vaginal hysterectomy, before the surgery began, the surgeon cleaned and anesthetized the woman’s vaginal area and inner thighs while looking at him and said, “I bet she’s enjoying this,” with a laugh and a wink.
“I was just standing there trying to learn,” he said. “The guy was a dirtball.”
The student said he was full of anger over the incident. But when asked if we went along with it and laughed, he admitted he did pretend to laugh, caught off guard by the situation and asked the teacher if anything like that ever happened to him, who responded that he had.
In the incident he shared, he was helping to deliver a baby girl when the mother began to bleed profusely, so he called to the obstetrician, Dr. Canby, to assist. The doctor explained she had a situation that caused hemorrhaging and that they needed to put her under anesthesia. While then inserting his hand into the uterus to help it contract, he made an inappropriate remark.
“He says something like, ‘Atta girl. That’s what I like. A nice, tight uterus,'” the author wrote.
“But then something happened that I’ll never forget,” the author continued. “Dr. Canby raises his right hand into the air. He starts to sing ‘La Cucaracha.’ He sings, ‘La Cucaracha, la cucaracha, dada, dada, dada-daaa.’ It looks like he is dancing with her. He stomps his feet, twists his body, and waves his right arm above his head. All the while, he holds her, his whole hand still inside her vagina. He starts laughing. He keeps dancing. And then he looks at me. I begin to sway to his beat. My feet shuffle. I hum and laugh along with him. Moments later, the anesthesiologist yells, ‘Knock it off, [expletive]!’ And we stop.”
The editors of Annals of Internal Medicine said:
“The first incident reeked of misogyny and disrespect — the second reeked of all that plus heavy overtones of sexual assault and racism,” the editors said.
“We hope that medical educators and others will use this essay as a jumping-off point for discussions that explore the reasons why physicians sometimes behave badly and brainstorm strategies for handling these ugly situations in real time,” they said.