Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Modesty gown

Interesting story from London today. Apparently, two English hospitals will be offering head-to-toe hospital gowns for Muslim women who request them. A picture of the gown is on the link for the article.
"I noticed a gap in the market and thought that it would be great if there was a gown that helped to preserve a patient's modesty," said Karen Jacob, linen services manager for the trust, who designed the product.
In looking at various media stories today, some call it a "Muslim gown" and others call it a "modesty gown." How things are phrased is so interesting to me.

Some people would call this action cultural sensitivity and others would call it cultural favoritism. Personally, I don't have a problem with the gown. But, it does set a cultural precedent of sorts. Does this mean now that African and Asian religious/cultural customs and values will be observed at this English hospital in addition to those from the Middle East? Something to watch for and something to think about...

17 comments:

Sid Schwab said...

I had a few Muslim patients. One elderly woman, treated with enormous respect by those who brought her in, needed her gallbladder out. She allowed me to examine her only through her burka. At surgery, we left her fully dressed until asleep.

Kirsten said...

And here I thought the whole point of hospital gowns was for easy access for medical reasons. If you want modesty, stay in bed with the covers to your neck or do what I did - wear another one with the opening in the front, like a bathrobe.

I can't wait for the next culturally sensitive innovation in healthcare. Money well spent, really it is. Yeah.

the granola said...

Your gown idea is good if you are not Muslim, but I can see how Muslim women who have grown up their entire lives with a burka would feel very, very uncomfortable without that kind of modesty.

It sounds silly to some, but it is important to others. I think it is just plain good medicine to respect the religious beliefs and cultures of patients.

healthpsych said...

I'd be happy just to have a gown that didn't flap open at the back! :)

I think it's just about respecting other cultures. Where's the harm in that? Isn't a little tolerance just what the world needs right now?

I wonder if there would a negative comment if it related to respecting a Christian or other religion or culture?


Apart from in the ED, most people here wear their own clothing in hospital anyway, so I wouldn't think the cost would be that extensive.

NeoNurseChic said...

My concern would be that the very um.....un-modest hospital gowns really are designed for easy access....what if a patient in one of these modesty gowns had an acute change in status and they needed to get the gown off quickly? Does it come off as easily as the typical gown?

I'm very much in favor of respecting cultural differences and religious beliefs, but also we have to consider the fact that the hospital gown wasn't just designed to embarrass the hell out of people... I don't think that non-muslims are content wearing a gown that shows their bare bottom and doesn't even stay on their shoulders...half of them don't even have proper ties......the fact that they haven't designed a more modest gown for the masses doesn't mean that all non-muslims are comfortable bearing their butts to the world...

When I was in the ICU, they made me wear a hospital gown. The rest of the time, I wore my own pajamas while in the hospital. Actually, even when I had to have the propofol infusions...again had to wear the gown. I had to put it on because of the increased risk of needing emergent access, and they weren't exactly sporting trauma shears to cut my cotton pajama top off.

For me, I would do anything I could to respect and protect people's cultural and religious beliefs... However, if they're talking about modesty, I would also prefer if they would design a gown that would be more modest for ALL people.... But in the end, it still has to serve the purpose of the hospital gown....it's not because people lack clothing - but for safety....

D.P. said...

Hmmmmm, I think a modest paper gown would allow for easy/quick access in an emergency. Personally, I sometimes wonder if they don't go to Costco and stock up on paper napkins to use as gowns . . . ;o)

Kannan said...

That's interesting. I guess that means the gowns we use every day are immodesty gowns. I'm not actually sure whose convenience they are designed for, but certainly not the patients, and barely the doctors.

jbwritergirl said...

In Los Angeles, we have a variety of gowns used for patients. Due to the amount of shootings, both by police and civilians, designers have jumped on the band wagon hoping to catch a piece of the pie.

The most popular gown however has been designed for those in the rap music business because they are most likely the ones to get shot. It's called "The Wrapper".

In the county jails, the latest gown designs features a closed back but promises easy access. That one is called the "BOKYAG"--(Bend Over Kiss Your Ass Goodbye), also referred to in the slang as "YAIS" (Your Ass Is Mine)

What's next?

Morgen said...

what an amusing post & great comments, too!!!
I, too, would be in favor for a more-covering "wrap" for all, regardless of religion, gender, or butt-size.
Funny, I don't have a prob walking around the house nekkid, but don't want to bare all in a hospital, where I'm sure NO one wants to see my ass anyway!
Great post!

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cathy said...

I think they should just do away with gowns altogether. What in the world is the sense of having one when you whole backside hangs out? They should just cover us with the sheet and when the doc. comes in it is all there waiting to be examined. It will save time for the doc's.

Besides I have had 8 surgeries and many procedures, I have never needed my backside examined so what good does it do to cover the front where the doc is going to need to examine anyway (most of the time) and leave the back open?

When I was 20 I was modest. Now it is "Just get where you need to go the quickest it can be done and move on." There does not need to be anything binding making it last longer.

Just don't make me take my teeth out!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Hmmm....verrry interesting. Isn't the hospital gown there to make examining the patient easier?

It's me, T.J. said...

So are they saying that only Muslims are modest?

I don't get it.

How many years has the hospital gown, laundered until it has become sheer with broken ties and ripped out snaps, been around?

How many people have complained about this?

One or two?

Maybe...

150 million or more?

Probably...


So we get a few Muslims in the hospital and they refuse to take their clothes off.

Do we send them home?

No.

We bend over backwards trying to accomodate them.


What I want to know is...

Why haven't I been accomodated?

later...

Mother Jones RN said...

I saw that article last week. I think it's a good idea.

Smalltown RN said...

As many have said here let's try and be tolerant of cultural differences....but, how does one expected to be examined if they are all covered up? The current gowns are terrible that is true...but they do serve a purpose as pointed out by so many. The gowns at the hospital I work at have the ties on the side which makes the gown cover your backside.

It just seems like a very large expense to be putting out. Those funds could be used to improve services for the public at large. You can by hospital gowns at some medical stores...if it is so important to have a "modesty gown" then maybe they should purchase one instead of epxecting the hospital to supply it.

Just a thought....great post doc

Patient Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Never heard of this one before. The biggest problem I have is the language of calling it a "Muslim Gown." That's just wrong.

So if anyone else who wasn't Muslim want said gown...they would be rejected?

I'm actually kind of surprised that this hasn't come up sooner.

It's tough to find a balance between cultural sensitivity safety to the patient as you all have indicated.

Anonymous said...

I can see where some of you are coming from but I think it's important to realize that many muslim women avoid getting treatment for various ailments b/c of the modesty issue. Not to say this is the Islamic point of view, as our religion says you should seek treatment, but when you are so accustomed to being fully covered when out and about it's kind of difficult to 'bare all' in the presence of men in an open setting. That being said, MOST of us understand that if i have a deep gash on my thigh I *obviously* have to expose that part of my leg in order to have it sutured or whatever the case is. BUT it is an Islamic principle that you only uncover what is *necessary* and not everything else. SO that being said, I believe this gown is there for walking around, being wheeled around, hanging out in the lounge, whatever, but when it comes time to have surgery or any other procedure done by a *male* dr. then that part is moved or removed altogether either in the surgery room or in the privacy of the hospital room (ie. behind the curtain)