Anonymous Essay Highlights Shocking Treatment Of Anesthetized Patients

Going under general anesthesia is always a leap of faith. When you’re knocked out for an operation, you have no choice but to trust your doctors completely.

Yet a disturbing essay published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine shows that doctors sometime betray that trust in shocking ways.

The article exposes behavior so “disgusting and scandalous” that the publication’s editors were concerned it could damage the reputation of doctors in general. But in the end, they argue in an editorial, the essay’s power to spark discussion about a little-discussed topic and expose a dark part of medical culture outweighed the risks inherent in its publication.

The essay, written by an anonymous physician, tells the stories of two female patients who were abused by their doctors while they were under general anesthesia.

The author heard about one of the cases through a medical student, who is called “David” in the story. The student was assisting with a vaginal hysterectomy — a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus through her vagina — for which the patient was under general anesthesia. David said that the attending physician was cleaning the patient’s pelvic area when he looked over at him and said “I bet she’s enjoying this,” and winked.

David recalled this incident with shame and revulsion, though he also admitted that he initially laughed at the physician’s lewd comment. David then asked his teacher if he had ever witnessed something similar, prompting the author to tell his class about a similar experience during his own time in medical school — one even more scandalous than David’s.

The author had just helped deliver the baby of a Hispanic woman he calls “Mrs. Lopez” when he noticed that she was bleeding profusely from her vagina. The doctor on duty determined —> Read More