Doctor Forces Rectal Exam, Patient Punches Doctor, Police Arrest Patient, Patient Sues

A 38-year-old construction worker who suffered a head injury on the job was sedated and given a rectal exam against his will, says the New York Times.

The patient was taken to to the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, given 8 stitches on the head, and was told he would need a rectal exam to see if he had a serious spinal injury.

He refused.

He adamantly objected to the procedure, he said, but was held down as he begged, “Please don’t do that.” 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.

“Psychologically, it changed his life completely,” Mr. Marrone said of the episode. “He hasn’t been able to work. He has absolutely no trust in the system at all: doctors or the police. He has post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

The hospital denies wrongdoing and will probably argue that because the patient suffered a head injury, they could not be certain of his mental state. The patient says that he clearly refused and that his rights were violated. The trial is scheduled for March 31.

Forced Rectal Exam Stirs Ethics Questions [NYT]