A case going to trial next month raises some, er, probing questions. From the NYT’s City Room:
Under what circumstances can a patient in an emergency room be forced to submit to a procedure that doctors deem to be medically necessary? That question — and the notion of informed consent — is at the heart of a civil case that is about to go to trial next month in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Brian Persaud, a 38-year-old construction worker who lives in Brooklyn, asserts that he was forced to undergo a rectal examination after sustaining a head injury in an on-the-job accident at a Midtown construction site on May 20, 2003. Mr. Persaud was taken to the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he received eight stitches to his head.
According to a lawsuit he later filed, Mr. Persaud was then told that he needed an immediate rectal examination to determine whether he had a spinal-cord injury. He adamantly objected to the procedure, he said, but was held down as he begged, “Please don’t do that.”
C’mon, Brian. Why not have a more open mind (among other things)? Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
As Mr. Persaud resisted, he freed one of his hands and struck a doctor, according to the suit. Then he was sedated, the suit says, with a breathing tube inserted through his mouth.
After Mr. Persaud regained consciousness, he was arrested, then taken — still in his hospital gown — to be booked on a misdemeanor assault charge. Gerrard M. Marrone, who was Mr. Persaud’s lawyer, got the criminal charges dropped, then helped Mr. Persaud file a civil lawsuit against the hospital.
For more discussion — including additional facts about the case, legal discussion, and comment from the hospital — check out the full post, by the indefatigable Sewell Chan.
Update: More about involuntary rectal exams from Slate (via WSJ Law Blog).
Forced Rectal Exam Stirs Ethics Questions [City Room / New York Times]
But I Don’t Want a Rectal Exam! [Slate]