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Male doctors to see female patients with a nurse present in Saudi Arabia

This circular was reportedly issued due to the many complaints the ministry received from patients

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The Ministry of Health has circulated a directive to all hospitals and health centers saying male doctors can examine female patients only in the presence of a female nurse, al-Hayat daily reported.

This circular was issued due to the many complaints the ministry received from patients and their companions in which they said male doctors who examine women cause them great embarrassment.

The ministry did not indicate whether the directive was issued due to recommendations from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia).

Recently, at a hospital in the south of the kingdom, an argument broke out between a man and his wife because a male doctor tried to examine the woman when she complained of abdominal pain.

The man demanded that his wife immediately leave the hospital and all attempts by hospital staff to convince him not to take his wife failed. The woman ended up leaving the hospital without receiving any treatment.

Gynecologist and Obstetrician Dr. Hashem Arab said medical students are allowed into female examination rooms as it is part of their education.

Other consultants and doctors, however, are not allowed into female examination rooms, except in emergency cases and with the consent of the patient.

Spokesman for the Eastern Province Health Directorate Khalid al-Esaimi said the ministry has several procedures and circulars explaining the approved procedures of dealing with female patients.

“These procedures and regulations have been circulated to all hospitals and health centers. They do not allow male doctors to examine a female patient without the presence of a female nurse. Male staff members are also not allowed to enter the rooms of female patients without a clear reason and permission from the patient,” he said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 19, 2014.