By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 11/29
Straight to the heart of the matter
Placeholder Image
DEAR DR. GOTT: This is regarding your answer to a reader's question about whether or not a doctor is acting unprofessionally by feeling her breast during a heart exam. A woman's breast has nothing to do with the heart. The heart is below the breasts! If a doctor can't get a good hearing, then there are three other places to listen for it. They are all below the breast, and the doctor has no right to touch a woman's breasts; they have nothing to do with hearing the heart. If doctors loosen the bra and/or cups, the breast in any way, then they aren't doing their job! The doctor is definitely acting unprofessional! If a doctor ever did it to me, I'd crush his onions.
    DEAR READER: Onions are the last things I want crushed, so let me respond to your issues by asking the obvious question: How would you crush his onions? This option, I might add, is not just a kitchen issue. Are there other options?
    When examining the heart, a cardiologist routinely checks out the valvular areas: the upper right chest, the lower right, the upper left and the lower left.
    Ordinarily, the areas of the examined heart are at or near the breastbone. However, on special occasions, in heavy-breasted women, the cardiac exam will exceed the standard perimeters. It would not be unusual for a reputable specialist to listen to heart sounds behind the breasts' borders. Your statement about "touching a woman's breasts" is absolutely incorrect.
    Hold on.
    Before you label me a sexist pig, let me remind you that inappropriate tactile experiences are distinctly abnormal and unusual. Doctors just don't do this kind of thing, especially when a doctor's specialty is so closely tied to gender. What about OB/Gyn specialists, surgeons and so forth? Is your anger also directed toward them? If not, why not?
    I do not subscribe to the concept that everything in the medical field has the potential to reflect female concerns. Let's get beyond that. Nudity and other issues have long been on the forefront of women's concerns. To my knowledge, they have been addressed adequately.
    In short, if you need a cardiac exam, don't be shocked if the physician listens to your heart and lungs by cupping or lifting your breast. If you feel uncomfortable about this, mention it to the physician and request a female monitor to be present during the exam. If you are absolutely undone by the possibility of a cardiac exam that could involve your breasts, ask for a referral to a woman cardiologist.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter