Deeply embarrassed: Is it ever ok for my arm... - AF Association

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Deeply embarrassed

Is it ever ok for my arm during B/P taking by a doctor to be made to rest on his body. ????

97 Replies
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No and especially not if you feel in the least bit uncomfortable. If you feel in least bit embarrassed about telling the doctor directly - contact the practice manager and ask to discuss with them. You also can ask for a chaperone or take someone you know and trust into the room with you. You don’t have to explain yourself, but the doctor needs to know it is not appropriate behaviour and makes people, there may be others, feel uncomfortable.

Best wishes

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Thank you, the GP knows that I am retired nurse, so I was even more puzzled by his actions.

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It could have been out of his/her awareness but it also could have been ‘testing’ to see if you could be a vulnerable person who wouldn’t say anything and so the slippery slope...........Either way, I would get it documented.

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Yes Dreamer this doctor is in his 60’s I thought is he just a dinosaur, ? but on on both occasions, my arm has been placed , once over his thigh (ugh) with hand dangling over “fly” area, and on the second occasion clasped to his lower abdomen as I was sat and he stood beside me. I want to cry just thinking about it.

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Definitely report to the practice manager - in writing. It then cannot be ignored. Ask for a chaperone if you ever have to see him again.

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Thankyou Dreamer, I shall do that on Monday. I’m grateful to you. Best Dee

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I am usually against all the 'Politically correct' stuff nowadays and I think many men are very often getting a bad rap for lighthearted quips etc, but your description of where your arm was placed (twice), shows something was wrong and you do have a very genuine concern... Yes it's necessary for the good of others that your should let the practice manager know, but I would change doctors immediately and ask the practice to waive the "Meet the new doctor" fee..... I was charged $185 to meet the new doctor for 15 seconds and that was in 2008 !

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I've never heard of such a thing, in fact my doctor knows I have white coat syndrome, and usually casually puts the cuff around my arm when I'm least expecting it and moves away from me as quickly as possible.

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Next time he dangles your arm across his lap with your hand over his fly, make a fist, punch him in his junk and tell him you get frequent muscle jerks during BP checks. This guy is a CREEP!

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How wonderful to get such a “belly “ laugh ( excuse the pun) at your funny comment, oh that I had the nerve, Im in enough trouble as it is, you are a bad influence, but welcome interval. Thanks .Dee

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Your reply cracked me up, but in all seriousness it would probably end this guy’s bad practice whether it was intentional or not.....and really, how could he think it was okay?

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He clearly did, and no doubt continues to do so, women have so much of this stuff to contend with throughout their lives, a lot of low grade groping etc. Until we have permission to use a cattle prod I cant see it ending,....wonder if Amazon stock them, ummm ?.....Dee

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lol Tudee, our sense of humor helps us cope, eh? Keep in touch. ❤️

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You sound just like Dr X.,! ......Seriously will do.x Dee

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Dr X?

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I am also retired nurse. You probably remember when we first were taught to take bp's we would out the cuff on and hold their arm inside our arm while taking bp . Being a retired nurse I would think you would have a good idea if he was inappropriate??

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Yes Jlaine, I really don’t wish to have my arm on his thigh or pressed against his lower abdomen, I don’t imagine it being the latest Nice recommendation, although they do make some off the wall decisions. lol take care .Dee

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Not on abdomen or thigh? I was taught to use my arm to support their arm near upper side area. I don't know where your Dr placed your arm?? I would have pulled my arm back if it was in an inappropriate place for sure

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Certainly not! Is he an elderly GP, just wondering if he's losing it a little bit mentally.

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Good Morning Jean, no, he is in his late 60’s a good clinician, very brusque in manner, not a charmer by any means, that’s why I was taken aback, Ive only seen him 3 times in 20 years, the last two have not been good experiences. Dee

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I have a neighbour who gradually started behaving a little odd, he become totally unaware of stepping over personal boundaries. I was once out walking with him and his wife through town and he started singing quite loudly the children's nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. I think that was the real turning point for me in knowing his mental state wasn't quite right. He has now, several years later, been officially diagnosed with the start of Alzheimers.

Surely any adult, including this doctor (in his right mind) would know that placing your arm on their body is not the correct thing to do. For one thing you must have had to get uncomfortably close to him to do this.

Personally I fear for his mind, rather than think of him as being lecherous. I too think you need to report this.

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Thanks Jeanie. I have a brother with dementia, though he is never “inappropriate” with me or others. This man is clear minded.

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Hey!

I am 70 - but I do not admit to being "elderly".

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No, you're certainly not elderly. Honestly, it was just a word I used when writing a quick answer.

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No, that is not at all acceptable behaviour and would make me very uncomfortable too. Very good advice from CDreamer

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You know Finvola, when this kind of thing happens you doubt oneself, am I over sensitive ? In a world where anything goes, but our Health Centre is somewhere we should feel safe and cared for.Thankyou for your imput.Regards Dee

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I so agree, Dee - I’ve asked myself the same type of question - ‘perhaps I am wrong and just imagined it’. The best advice I’ve had was, if you feel the situation is inappropriate, you’re right. Best wishes. xx

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What is wrong with his desk? There can only be one reason IMHO. Complain!

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Thank you Bob, appreciated. Dee

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Good heavens ! This is certainly not acceptable. I go along with all that CDreamer has said.

I'm so sorry that you are now finding this so upsetting. Sometimes things happen which take us unaware and it is only upon reflection that we realise how inappropriate it all was.

Personally I would not want any further consultations with this GP.

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Thankyou Jalia, I was taken aback, but “HES THE DOCTOR, “ he must be right kind of syndrome happens, and I was suffering with acute dyspnea so was distracted by that to a greater degree. Best, Dee

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Hi Tudee, if you feel stressed or uncomfortable when having your blood pressure checked you will not get an accurate reading, also your arm should be positioned correctly at a mid-sternum level not lower in someone's lap.

From a nursing magazine...

''The patient's arm should be supported in a horizontal position, at the mid-sternum level. Having the arm above heart level leads to an underestimation of systolic and diastolic pressures, and below heart level an overestimation of about 10 mmHg.''

There is something odd about the GPs actions, If you feel too uncomfortable to say anything to anyone and can't see another doctor I would make sure I positioned my arm myself, I always do anyway and have been known to tell a doctor off for talking to me when a BP measurement is being taken.

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Yes Doodle, I note what you say, at any level my B/P reading would have been elevated because of the huge cringe factor, on one occasion he sat on the desk my arm pulled over his thigh, his other leg was stretched straight to the floor, so it was at mid sternum level , .......he got that bit right. Regards Dee

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Tudee at the very least this is unprofessional behaviour and from a Doctor's point of veiw is something you wouldn't do because of the possible implications.

I can fully understand why you feel upset about this and I don't think for a moment you are being oversensitive. If you have got the courage to say something I would certainly do as CD suggests and mention to the practice manager that you were 'made to feel uncomfortable' sometimes it is easier and less stressful to say things in a letter rather than in person .

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Definitely unprofessional.Report to practice manger ASAP.

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Sounds a bit dodgy, but my 'bloods' nurse always rest my hand on her thigh when she takes a blood sample.

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Really ? , do you see my dilemma, it seems acceptable to you at some levels, but not with a male and below his waist contact. Hands only should be used by medical professionals to make contact and examine. Good point well made DueNorth. Regards Dee

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I do see what you mean but in my practice, a cushion is used so there can be no question of inappropriate positioning or misunderstanding and that surely is the point.

As the very least it is poor practice, at the other end of the scale it is the narrow end of the wedge and there could be mind issues but it’s not our job as the patient to correct that or amend our behaviour - it’s the Practice Manager’s responsibility to keep everyone up to speed and handle patient complaints and to protect the practice from any law suit, which is why I suggest you write, then phone to make sure the letter was received and logged and then have the conversation with the practice manager who then should inform you of their actions. This GP may be completely unaware he has made you feel uncomfortable - which needs to be explained to him.

You can be pretty sure if this happens with you, other patients may have also suffered which is why again, get it on record.

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I totally see your point. In my case the connotation is reversed in some respects. I could be the one accused I suppose, though she gives the impression that that's her usual method.

It raises interesting differences in gender perspectives far too controversial to discuss here, but I'm thinking that the way in which something is done is as important as the action itself. My nurse is very matter of fact and functional, but if she was sleazy or lingering I'd see it differently.

If it makes you uncomfortable it isn't ok.

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New age man indeed, cheers to you. Dee

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Wouldn’t bother me tbh but everyone’s different. Just speak up surely? Say ‘l’d rather lean on the desk thanks’.

Then he’s clear. If he does it again.....hmm that’s a time for official stuff.

I realise that’s against all the above advice btw but I’m just throwing my opinion in.

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Hi, Tudee

It seems very inappropriate that he came out from behind his desk and sat on his desk to take your blood pressure. Taking a blood sample is very different, as your elbow has to be straight... but it could still be done with him sitting at his desk.

Telling your doctor that you would prefer not to rest your arm on his leg might be sufficient... and, I think, an official complaint could just be ignored... (in which case you could write to the General Medical Council) or result in you being banned from the practice. (There is only one practice that serves this area.)

Another member on another forum made a complaint about insufficient information... and had a procedure cancelled.

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That’s how I felt first time it happened, I rarely see this this man, but when it happened again, I thought, Im sure this isn’t right, or am I ?.. that’s why I e sought advice. Thanks Dee

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Didn’t realise it had happened more than once. So it wasn’t just an ‘innocent’ lapse in good practice.

I would definitely try either one of my suggestions.

Pete

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Please think carefully about talking to the practice manager at this stage. The NHS complaints system is very unforgiving, with the potential for very drawn out and stressful enquiries, the consequences of which can be career ending and a threat to mental health.

Talking to the practice manager about a problem of this nature will inevitably unleash the full juggernaut of the complaints system.

In bed, in hospital when your GP was working there, in the days of checking BP with sphygmomanometer and stethoscope, it would be standard to clasp the patients arm against the standings nurse's or doctor's body.

I have often in the past had my BP checked in the way you describe by female and male staff.

I've also had blood taken with my arm on the usually female nurse's thigh at the surgery.

Ask yourself what motive your doctor had. Neither action you describe is inevitably a matter of sexual harassment in my opinion.

Why not consider making an appointment with this GP solely for the purpose of discussing what happened, how you felt at the time and how upset you remain. You could say you have considered a formal complaint. Taking a friend for support may help. You can judge from his reaction whether to go ahead with a complaint.

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Are you speaking from a mans point of view or a womans? It makes a difference.

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Thanks Oyster, as you see from my reply to Pottypete, it could affect my relationship with everyone in the Practice, I know the system well.

I remember in the 1960/70s B/P were sometimes B/Ps were taken like that, but thank goodness we have moved on from that, and have awareness of the implications of clasping a patients arm to ones lower abdomen, especially for young girls and women, and leaving doctors open to accusations. Regards. Dee

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Just a few points - if this GP is unaware of current good practice guidelines, then a reminder is required. I’ve never had bloods or BP taken in the way you describe - my arm has always been placed on a desk or on a pillow or cushion.

It is not the patient’s responsibility to guess at the motives of the doctor, how can we possibly know? That’s why protocols and guidelines are put in place, to keep doctor and patient safe.

Patients reluctant to speak up, especially women against authority figures, and professionals willing to protect other professionals is one of the reasons abuse has been so widely perpetuated.

Whilst it may not bother some people, and there maybe no intent of sexual gratification, that is not the point, it demonstrates a deep lack of sensitivity. I know from my work of working with people who have been abused, the trauma this sort of touch can evoke in the body and the mid. Whatever the intent, it can set people back years. It must not be underestimated just how damaging the trauma this sort of touch can evoke in the body for anyone, male or female, who has been abused which is why verbal permission to touch, at any level, must be sought. Is it alright if I have a listen to your chest? May I hold your wrist and take your pulse? Etc. Etc. - then there is no cause for complaint.

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Dear Dreamer, you have found the words Ive wanted to hear, good practice, and safeguards for both I thank you sincerely for composing it in a way Id wished to go hadnt been able to formulate. A very balanced insight to my initial question. ...... permission is key. Regards Dee

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Sounds totally wrong to me. Hope you can feel the courage to complain or at least raise your concerns with the practice manager.

If your courage lets you down ask to be seen by a different doctor preferably a female. If the other doctor does it correctly, as no doubt will happen, casually ask the other doctor why she thinks the other doctor rested your arm on his leg.

Pete

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Thanks Pete, my usual GP wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, I shall see the Practice Manager on Monday. I have had my B/P taken by man in question twice in 3 years, both times involved the personal contacts I’ve described. I do not want to touch his body, especially not below the waist..The problem is what can Practice Manager do, a quiet word, a word with colleagues, suddenly it’s around the Practice in 2 minutes, I would hate that. Regards Dee

,

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If it matters to you and you think it is wrong you have to take action.

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I totally understand the problem with complaining which is why these people keep getting away with it. But if nobody stands up to this type of thing it will keep happening.

Having said that my wife made a complaint about a fellow worker some years ago who inappropriately put his arms around her from behind when she was at the photocopier at work.

My wife made a complaint and in the end all that happened was he denied it and the management just dismissed my wife’s complaint without even a reprimand.

It is so difficult to know what to do for the best.

Pete

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Gosh, you poor thing Tudee.

I’m trying to put myself in your shoes. It’s awful that not only have you experienced something so horrible but now you find yourself in this difficult situation.

Great advice on here as usual 😊

When you speak to the practice manager do be reassured that it’s highly likely that there have already been complaints about that person (though they wouldn’t tell you), don’t feel that it can only be you. And if you’re concerned about it getting round the practice, tell the manager that, ask for complete confidentiality and for your name be kept out of it, at least for now. Once you have their assurance and guidance you can go from there.

Good luck 😊

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Thankyou Hilly, sage advice, as is that from friends on here, I have a great fear of unleashing the hounds of hell, or the NHS complaints system, so I shall only seek the Practice Managers advice, not make a formal complaint. I’ve just heard that this GP is retiring at the end of the year which cheers me somewhat. I am sure that I am not the only one with concerns, his ratings are 3 out of 10. Best

, Dee

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If you speak to the practice manager she will have no option but to take action, I worked in a surgery until I retired, so think carefully before you take this action if this dr. is retiring soon maybe go to a different dr. at the practice, as some Drs do take bp readings that way, not many I would say he may not realise how uncomfortable he makes you feel doing it that way or just tell him, he could feel embarrassed that he made you feel this way

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Oh dear,......now Im more confused than I was at the start of my post, so many saying ,it’s wrong, take action, and others, take care before speaking up. I think I shall just go back to bed and stay there.

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(((Dee)))

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Take your own cushion with you? Seriously, it was horrible and difficult to deal with. I find humour helps in these situations.

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I understand your discomfort and concern for yourself and others but like oyster I am aware that genuine concern like yours can unleash a chain of events over which you will have no control .

By all means see the practice manager but (as you have said you will) make it clear this is not an official complaint but an enquiry regarding best practice

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Thank you Bagrat, that shall be my approach, I have a very good relationship with the Practice Manager, so my approach shall be one of concern rather than outrage, Regards. Dee

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In a word NO, you can take someone with you or you can ask for a chaperone within the surgery or you can change doctor, at the very worst you can report him, what he is doing is not good practice. Most doctors I know sit behind a desk so your arm can be placed on the desk.

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Exactly Opal, his weird gymnastics which would skew any reading were unfathomable. Regards Dee

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I would take someone with you next time. I think for you to see the practice manager is a good idea. Just tell her how you felt. Explain that you are not accusing him but that his behaviour has deeply upset you. It has made you really worried. ..but that you are not formally complaining. Do you feel confident that she will only act with tact? She doesn’t need to go in with all guns blazing ...unless this is one of many complaints. I really understand how you must feel ,I have been in a similar situation though not with a medic. It is very unnerving . Come back and let us know how you get on.

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Many thanks Mouchkin. Dee

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You could find out if there is a PALS person who covers the practice. They might even be able to approach the practice manager without mentioning your name. I was a Patients Advocate in a big NHS trust and I sometimes acted for the patient in this way,if that is what they wanted.

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Yes, good thinking, zi did see a notice at the Practice about Pals, so that could work. Many thanks Dee

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Hi Tudee

There are are other ways to complain about the doctor. A few months ago my wife had an angina attack in our local market. A very kind market stall holder ran us to the doctors. After explaining to the receptionist that she needed to see a doctor urgently and the symptoms, we were kept waiting for one and a half hours. The doctor asked why we had been kept waiting for so long as he should have seen us earlier. He sent us to the hospital where they kept her in overnight. I made a comment, not a complaint that the receptionists needed to be better trained to deal with such emergencies and was rang up the next day and assured that things would change. Whenever my wife enters the practice now she is often asked how she is going on by the receptionist. We made a difference without making a fuse. I made the comment on line with the on line comment procedure, as I said not as a complaint but as a comment to improve the system. Result.

Hope this helps

Good luck

Flyer.

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Yes we have comment forms at our practice...you could fill that in anonymously.

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It certainly does, Ive had two new approaches mentioned this morning, yours too is more the line I would like to take, distancing myself a little. Many thanks Dee

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All of our GPs rest my arm on the desk. Don’t think you would get a proper reading in the position you describe. Also if you were stressed again no proper reading. Personally before complaining to anyone like practice nurse, perhaps say to him that you would feel more comfortable with your arm on the desk. Or try to get another doctor. All the best

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I've had a similar but different experience with BP being taken

My male 58 year doctor took my BP while we were both standing up then I became aware of his leg pressing against mine very hard until the reading was taken I froze not moving

I remember thinking that.it was an odd way to take my BP but didnt tell anyone about it and it never happened again maybe he was just not thinking what he was doing

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He knew exactly what he was doing Fairgo, he is an intelligent educated man Im sure, why do we women make excuses, we are enablers if we do, Im sorry you had that experience, these behaviours are rife, how many women have suffered intimate examinations for totally unconnnected disorders, hundreds of thousands. I’m going to take action, in a way that protects me. In this age of ‘Me Too” everyone is aware of inappropriate behaviour. I know exactly what you meant about his behaviour being “odd”. when Dr X got up from behind his desk and straddled the corner of his desk, I too thought , ... what a strange thing to do, it’s not on whim it’s calculated,practised. Take care . Dee

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Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable is not ok. I have taken thousands of BPs and have never felt the need to rest the person’s hand over my nether regions. Sounds like a perve to me. Complain and move practice;if Heanor thinks it’s alright to do that, Heanor obviously cannot be trusted. I would prefer that my gp is listening to me and thinking about my treatment, not thinking how Heanor can get me to touch his crotch.

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That really made me laugh, but you went straight to the heart of the matter, Thankyou Dee

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I guess all these comments we be appropriate if it was a female doctor with a male patient...Right everyone ?

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No, inappropriate behaviour - period.

Doesn’t matter if it’s Male on male, female on female or any other combination. No touch without explicit permission.

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Female doctors are rarely predatory I’ve found, it’s just not the nature of the species. Dee

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"I guess all these comments we be appropriate if it was a female doctor with a male patient...Right everyone"

Gender does not matter - a "straight" male patient might feel uncomfortable with a Male GP or nurse who seemed to be gay...

I am happy for my osteopath to have physical contact with me because that is why I go to him.

When I was a voluntary assistant gymnastics instructor, working at my late wife's ballet, tap and gymnastics school - I regularly supported gymnasts... and occasionally caught them.

Professionals and volunteers should work to the guidelines... but many elderly ladies ¿particularly widows? appreciate physical contact... but, if 1,000 ladies appreciate physical contact, and one does not...

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there's something wrong there. i work in a hospital and this sounds very strange i would report it or tell the doc it makes you feel uncomfortable or have his assistant in there with you

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I know it’s very strange behaviour I was a nursing officer

ICU and CCU many years ago and we wouldn’t suffer this tomfoolery then , ....why should we now. These men are coached in ethics and correct inter- patient behaviour, they know exactly what they are doing they are not social morons.

, perhaps they think we are.

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I agree with CDreamer's response... I recently had breast surgery, and prior to going in, my surgeon checked on me. He asked very politely if it was ok for him to listen to my heart, and then again if he could take a look at the area needing surgery. Afterwards, at follow up visits in his office with his nurse in attendance, he asked again if he could check my incision, and made sure the door shut before my exam. Very professional, caring, discreet in regard to patient privacy. Too bad all doctors aren't like that. Sorry you had to deal with that.

And to the poster asking about role reversal, no doctor, male or female, should treat their patients like that, ever. Wouldn't make it ok if it was a female doctor/male patient.

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No. It is not OK. Doctors have boundaries.

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Reminds me of the Joe Biden "touchy-feely" reports that are coming forward, where he feels warm and loving and kind toward women and touches them and "sniffs" them, but it creeps them out. Your boundaries and personal space are important whether the person is a neighbor, doctor or priest. It's sometimes hard to react or say something in the moment, so putting it in writing afterwards is the next best thing. I would look for a different doctor, if I could.

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Think that’s awful!! Hope all is ok now.

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Thank you Mazzy B, work in progress. Dee

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It seems that happened to me once ... but l was very young and he was very old and l found it naively comforting.

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This is my fear, that I can’t be the only one that he behaves that way with. Thanks for sharing Janith. Dee

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Absolutely not..

I would have reported him.. if it was he or she

Most in professional

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If you ever have to see him again then just say I prefer my arm to rest on the desk ! It’s possible that he has no idea but by his reaction you will certainly find out

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Definitely not. You should bring this to the attention of the practice manager. Your Practice should have PPG( patient participation group), who work with the doctors and staff as a go-between between patients and the medical staff. I would tell them as well so that this can be discussed at their next meeting. Patients should NOT be made to feel uncomfortable in any way when they see their doctor.

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Thank you Lizzie, but Ido notwant itto go to open forum, rather a discussion with P. Manager and have it dealt with in a way that does not affect my relationship with the Practice. Dee

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You could have a quiet word with the practice manager, saying you feel, as a nurse, that Dr X isn’t following the correct procedure for taking blood pressures. Maybe being older he could do with a little training in the current methods. If she asks you to explain further, say that you think modern practice is to limit the amount of personal contact made during the procedure to avoid misunderstandings.

You don’t have to be specific even if pressed. I think it is quite possible that other people, either staff or patients have expressed their concern. So your comments will just add to the unease about this doctor and then someone could have a quiet word with him.

Try to avoid that doctor but if you have to see him again, just take someone with you. You don’t have to justify it and it’s quite common. I’ve been with friends who want another ear on the doctor is telling them. Also if he does it again just move your arm, saying you prefer it to be on a desk.

I do feel for you. It’s a horrible position to be in.

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Thank you Daisy, that is my preferred approach too,.Rfgards Dfee

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Dear CDreamer, I'm a male and just saying I don't think you would get as many male responses if the doctor was a attractive female with a male patient. I probably would not complain.....but maybe its just me....thank you, have a good day.

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I,m just retired from a Doctors surgery and I have never heard of or seen that happen.I also have my BP done regularly ,and your arm should be placed under a pillow on the clinicians desk or table not on their lap.

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Exactly, we all know what Dr X did was weird, amounting to near assault on his point as no consent was given. I’m speaking to the Practice Manager on Wednesday hopefully, thanks for your imput. Regards Dee

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