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Right to privacy

MagazineDecember 1997 (Vol. 8 Issue 9)Right to privacy

What doctors don't tell you is only part of the story what patients don't tell doctors needs airing, too

What doctors don't tell you is only part of the story what patients don't tell doctors needs airing, too. What I did not tell the doctors today in the hospital I attended is that I was very angry at the lack of respect for me as a human being and a

I put down my bags and was asked to take off all my top clothes. I could see three men looking at me, one a doctor. For a brief moment I hesitated, then turned to the wall, removed my clothes and walked bare topped to the raised plinth and got on to it.

During the subsequent procedure, I wondered at the sheer insensitivity, and whether I was the only woman patient who registered anger and humiliation. My anger resulted in a determination that I would lie very still, and be very calm.

No one appreciated the remark that I felt like a stripper and that this was the very worst part of the event for me. Two male radiologists carefully measured me and explained what was going on, while I lay like a reversed turtle, with my arms up in the air behind my head, holding on to a bar. I told myself that they did not really see me at all, I was just a body to them, and I could remove myself mentally.

What had I wanted that I did not get? I would have greatly appreciated being given a robe and a chance to strip off alone.

I want to wave a flag for human rights, the right to be treated with dignity, and I do not consider that I was. Discounting people's right to privacy and dignity in the name of therapeutic procedures seems totally aggressive and unnecessary.

I suppose I can look forward to all sorts of feelings during the six weeks I have to attend daily for radiotherapy. I can see that I have to cultivate a tough exterior, and grit my teeth and just get on with it. After all, I am only a patient. V S L, London.......


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