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How to tell if your doctor is a pervert

 Photo; Courtesy

Doctors – not quacks – are good people. The strings they pull in the meshwork of our lives are for enhancing rather than hurting.

Many women know this. And in the same breath, Harriet Ndege has never doubted her doctors’ commitment in keeping her healthy and safe. But an expose a while back on a ‘doctor’ who has been preying on his patients has elicited conversations on women’s safety at health facilities.

“Not even once have I doubted if a medic is out to exploit me as a woman. Through the many check-ups and examinations, all has always been well and professional,” she says.

A survey conducted by Eve Woman team suggests that for many women, Harriet’s sentiments ring true.

Her sense of optimism is a reflection of our minds. “Why would it be weird to be examined by a doctor?” wonders Aliet Sunday, a mother and a wife. “The only time it ever felt uncomfortable being examined by a doctor was when I went for my first gynecological visit. But this was only because I had never been checked to that extent before.

Even so, I believe the doctor was very professional and I am fine with all that he did.”

But on keener thought, both Harriet and Aliet say their safety was assured “for I believed in the standards of the facility.” “I have always visited established private facilities whenever I need medical attention.

Even before I follow my doctor’s directives, I trust that I am in a safe environment. The hospitals have good reputations. I trust them – which is why I seek their services,” says Harriet.

It has always been important to Aliet that whoever handles her is a qualified person.

And while she has rarely cared to research about an institution or one of its workers, through instinct, she has keenly vetoed who services her medical needs. “By the time I am going to a hospital to be treated, I am sure that I will be handled by professionals. So, I have never really expected to be abused by personnel,” offers Aliet.

Comfort zone

However, mere proof of graduation from university and licence for practice shouldn’t drive women into a comfort zone, argues Wandia Maina, a psychologist. Wandia believes just like you may find a teacher abusing his students or a father molesting his daughter, there are doctors who practice not what they sore on the Hippocratic Oath.

“The nature of a doctor’s job makes it even easier for him to abuse a patient,” she argues, “because they know you are most vulnerable while in their hands.”

Our socialization, says Wandia, has made us put medical practitioners on a pedestal when there are perverts at large within the profession.

She adds: “While a doctor may be truly qualified, we have others who may be suffering from psychological problems.

And these manifest even in their socialization. Some phrases that doctors use to break ice as they interact with a patient may point to their psychological state. For instance, ‘you are such a beauty’.”

According to Wandia, such statements may come across as compliments. But in reality, a doctor has no business complimenting your body or any part of your body while they are conducting an examination.

“As professional as a breast exam may look, at times, it could be an avenue to abuse a woman,” Wandia says.

And while you can’t accurately predict if a doctor will take advantage of you, there are a few ways you can considerably increase your safety.

• Be proactive about your health and ask questions

In the opinion of Rehema Kahurananga, interviewed here before, the mistake most ladies do is “not having the interest to know more about your health”. For instance, if you have had abdominal pain for a period of time, it would help to ‘google’ and find out more about the symptoms.

In the process, one may know the specialist they may have to see and the kind of tests that may be conducted on them. This would give one a standing point to question suspicious procedures that a doctor may order.

• Understand if your doctor or the facility is licensed

According to Kenya Medical practitioners and Dentists board (KMPDB), every practitioner running a personal clinic is supposed to display their license of operation, issued by the board.

Apart from that, there is a separate license for the facility which should as well be put up for display.

• Have someone else in the examination room

Normal procedures demand for doctors to conduct intrusive examinations, such as gynecological types, while a nurse is present, offers Dr. John Wachira of AMREF Kenya. But even so, where there is no nurse, a patient can always ask for next of kin to be present as the doctor works on the patient. Wandia believes that when a woman subjects herself to solitary confinement, whether with a quack or a doctor, they have opened doors for abuse. “I believe its best to carry along my husband.

This would make it difficult for a gynecologist, for instance, to conduct themselves in a manner that is not fit,” says Edith Mwando, a married mother of one.

• Avoid facilities you have doubt upon

In every situation, “trust your instinct” says Wandia. “If your mind tells you that something is wrong then take off before it is too late.” This is because while the facility may have a licence, it is not a guarantee that whoever you will find inside is a professional. “Low-end health facilities are likely to be misused by perverted individuals. Think through about it before you subject yourself to treatment,” offered Wandia.

• Never accept tablets or injection before diagnosis

According to Dr. Wachira, it is extremely unusual for a doctor to offer a patient any kind of drugs before examination and determination of illness. “Where anesthesia is needed, an anesthesiologist would be required to be present. Plus, such are extensive procedures that are not conducted in personal clinics but rather in established settings,” he says.

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