Five Denver Health Medical Center nurses were suspended for three weeks after allegedly making inappropriate comments about a patient’s “unusually” large penis, according to ABC News7.
The nurses, from an unspecified medical unit, allegedly observed the male patient’s genitalia “when he was incapacitated,” and later went so far as to to open up his body bag after he died to take another look. A colleague reported the nurses’ behavior after she heard them discussing what they had seen amongst each other.
Denver Police investigated the incident, but found that no crime was committed. All the nurses returned to the hospital after their suspension, with the exception of one, who no longer works at the hospital (but was not terminated), an official told News7.
Men’s Health asked nurses and doctors how common this type of incident among those in the medical profession is and found that, although it is rare for nurses to show a dead patient’s penis to their coworkers, it’s not unheard of for medical professionals to discuss abnormalities with each other. It’s also not unusual for medical professionals to use dark humor to cope with the extreme nature of their job. An attending physician with five years of experience recalled numerous times his colleagues made inappropriate comments about patients’ bodies. “I even remember being told that some guy had really swollen testicles [in an MRI],” he told Men’s Health.
That being said, medical practitioners are trained to handle graphic medical cases and deformities with respect and professionalism, even in death.
“In training, we were shown some particularly bad images, so you don’t ever make your patient uncomfortable by looking shocked,” a nurse practitioner explained to Men’s Health. “Honestly, we see so much of the body and so many variations that it all starts to blur together. [A penis] becomes no more remarkable than a kneecap is to anyone else.”