Archive March 2019 XX, No. 3

Editor's Page

A Modest Proposal

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


It's easy to lose sight of how vulnerable your patients are when they're laid out on the operating room table, sedated, anesthetized, cold and exposed, precious little covering their bodies and their dignity. We've lost sight, too, on occasion, running photographs of patients in most compromising positions on our covers, like these 2 below.


Clearly, these photos reveal too much, "but at the same time, it's a reality of the unnecessary exposure of many surgery patients in operating rooms," says Misty Roberts, the founder of Medical Patient Modesty (, a non-profit organization that works to educate patients about their rights to modesty in medical settings. "So many patients would cancel their surgery if they knew how exposed they would be," she adds.

Ms. Roberts is urging hospitals and surgery centers to abandon the "ridiculous" policy that patients remove their underwear for surgeries on such areas as the knee or hand that do not involve genitals.


A couple of orthopedic surgeons have taken matters into their own hands, inventing modesty garments.

  • Covr Medical ( Concerned about how many of his hip surgery patients were unnecessarily exposed — and frustrated by the blue towels he used to cover patients' genitals that would often fall to the floor — Bruce Levy, MD, an orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., along with his wife, created a line of groin-covering garments that provide full coverage front and back while allowing the hip, groin or flank access that surgeons require. The patient can wear the Covr garment as soon as she undresses, while in the OR and then through post-op.
  • Modicine ( Perhaps proof that modesty is the mother of invention, orthopedic surgeon Scott Trenhaile, MD, of OrthoIllinois in Rockford, Ill., created Modicine Patient Wear after operating on a female employee who was reluctant to be exposed from the waist up to her boss and coworkers. The patient ended up using an elastic bandage to cover her breasts. The experience made an impression on Dr. Trenhaile, who subsequently developed the Modicine PatientWear Modesty Bra and Modesty Brief surgical undergarments.

"I think that all surgeons should know about those modesty garments," says Ms. Roberts. "More patients would be willing to undergo surgeries if they knew their modesty would be protected."

It is a modest proposal, indeed, to be more sensitive to patients' modesty. OSM

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