An essay in the Annals of Internal Medicine on inappropriate behavior towards patients by clinicians has generated a great deal of discussion for its controversial content. In the piece titled “Our Family Secrets,” the anonymous author describes a discussion in a medical humanities class on forgiving others from previous clinical practice; a student spoke up and recounted an event in which an attending made sexual comments while prepping a patient who was under general anesthesia for vaginal hysterectomy. The author also shared an instance in medical school during which a resident made racially insensitive remarks after treating a patient for uterine atony that was leaning towards sexual assault.
The author concludes with “after I finish my story, I glance at the students; some gaze down at the table in front of them, while a few others look at me with blank stares. They are all quiet. I know this is my silence to break.” An accompanying editorial emphasizes that the essay is an opportunity to highlight this inexcusable behavior and prevent any further occurrences of such actions while facilitating discussions to explore questionable behaviors by clinicians.
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