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Wife wants all-female personnel in OR. Is this reasonable?

Nurses   (7,127 Views 26 Comments)
by SuperSixEightMD SuperSixEightMD (Member)

1,086 Visitors; 35 Posts

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Greetings folks.

My wife was recently diagnosed with a perianal abscess that is going to require surgery in the OR.

As you can imagine, this is about as embarrassing and compromising a surgery as one can have. My wife is an extremely modest and private individual (she refuses to see a male internist or a male OBGYN, and the general surgeon who will be removing the fistula is a female doctor). My wife is immensely uncomfortable about having this procedure done. Not just because of the compromising nature of the procedure itself, but because she is also concerned that there will be male personnel in the room. And honestly, I can't blame her. If I were in her shoes, I'd have some serious qualms about having staff of the opposite gender witnessing me bent over in the jacknife position and having my anus operated on. I know we are all professionals, but still.....people have different levels of trust for medical personnel, and different modesty needs.

I know she wants an all-female staff in the operating room (with the exception of the anesthesiologist, which she doesn't care about). Quite frankly, I've never run into this situation before - neither as a patient, nor as a resident, nor as an attending doc. Patients have asked me once or twice in the past, but none have actually requested this. But again, it's my wife...and what's important to her is important to me. And unfortunately, I'm not on staff at the hospital where the procedure is scheduled to go, so needless to say I can't pull any strings for her.

What are the prospects of her surgeon and the OR staff making this accommodation for her? If any of you have had any experience with this scenario, I'd certainly appreciate it if you'd relate them to me.

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6,630 Visitors; 175 Posts

You can always ask, but who cares what people see as long as she's not conscious to remember the experience? When shes on the floor (if she stays overnight) she can always ask for a female nurse, and that wish will be granted.

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General E. Speaking, RN is a RN and specializes in floor to ICU.

4 Articles; 22,531 Visitors; 1,337 Posts

I would say to go ahead and ask. This is something elective and not emergent (although it probably feels like emergent to her!) so there is time to request and see if an all female staff would be even be possible and/or available.

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sicushells has 3 years experience as a RN and specializes in SICU, Peds CVICU.

5,406 Visitors; 216 Posts

First of all, I agree with squantmunkie- she's going to be anesthetized and won't be conscious to feel embarrassed.

Second of all, you really should be talking to the hospital/surgeon/OR coordinator about this. You can always ask them. Regardless of what we say on here, the hospital may or may not be able to accommodate you.

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

3 Followers; 114,214 Visitors; 13,217 Posts

If the OR team consists of half men/half women, then it might not be logistically possible to accommodate her. All you can do is ask.

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1,508 Visitors; 37 Posts

I do not know what hospital your wife is a patient at, BUT I wouldn't think it a huge deal to make an all female staff in the OR. Your wife is in fact a "customer" as well as a patient. I work for surgeons who do exactly what your wife is having done among many other things. The procedure is not very long and therefore would take up many staff members for hours on end. It is very hard to deal with and can be embarassing. If they do not at least "try" to accomidate you then I would look elsewhere.

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roser13 has 17 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC.

50,703 Visitors; 6,504 Posts

I work in an ambulatory surgery center. For my own recent procedure, I requested an "all-girls" OR. It is not a big deal to request that.

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linearthinker has 25 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in FNP.

12,084 Visitors; 1,688 Posts

I don't see anything wrong with asking per se, and maybe some places would be more accommodating than others, but it would never be granted at any hospital I have worked for. However, I was a student nurse 25 years ago in a very posh community hospital that would definitely have done this for you. They had white jacketed and gloved waiters, lol. And I'll tell you the honest truth, lots of places I worked might well have said "sure" just to placate her and then it would have been business as usual. Hope it goes well in any event.

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walk6miles specializes in ICU of all kinds, CVICU, Cath Lab, ER..

2 Articles; 6,626 Visitors; 308 Posts

The only thing to be seen is the operative area..........patients are drapped and covered.

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14,609 Visitors; 1,061 Posts

I do not know what hospital your wife is a patient at, BUT I wouldn't think it a huge deal to make an all female staff in the OR. Your wife is in fact a "customer" as well as a patient. I work for surgeons who do exactly what your wife is having done among many other things. The procedure is not very long and therefore would take up many staff members for hours on end. It is very hard to deal with and can be embarassing. If they do not at least "try" to accomidate you then I would look elsewhere.

I agree with cLmPdN, the health care environment has changed. It now more business centered than ever, and she is indeed a customer.

The point that she is under anesthesia etc and that a combination

of male and female staff members is mute.What matters most is that her comfort level and wishes are honored both peri op and post op in this

surgery.

So I agree with the suggestion to request the all female staff in the OR, and if that is refused to look elsewhere.

I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers,please keep us updated.

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roser13 has 17 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC.

50,703 Visitors; 6,504 Posts

"The point that she is under anesthesia etc and that a combination

of male and female staff members is mute"

No doubt that this poster meant to say moot.

Doubtful that OP's wife is dumb (unable to speak, as in "mute").

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StNeotser has 10 years experience as a ASN, RN.

25,064 Visitors; 963 Posts

I'm very sorry about your wifes condition.

However, unless she is personally paying their salaries, why would she demand this?

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