Friday, April 06, 2012

Strip Search Survey

Okay, if you've been reading our blog for long, you know that there are some sensitive issues here, and strip searching patients upon admission to psychiatry units is one of them.  I'm a psychiatrist and I didn't know this was routine.  Of course, I assumed it happened if someone was presumed to be dangerous, so if they have a weapon taken from them in the ER, a history of violence, or are being admitted to a locked unit for their own safety.  But grandma with her agitated depression?  Or a high school student with an eating disorder?   One thing that's changed since I was a resident (the last time I worked on an inpatient unit) is that admission criteria has changed significantly.  There are few elective admissions, and pretty much the only way that insurance will pay for admission is if the patient is an imminent danger, so this means that the patients on the inpatient unit are, by definition, more likely to be dangerous and acutely ill.  When I was in medical school, people were admitted for depression for weeks, they'd go out on passes to see how they did at home or away from the unit, and admissions were planned for "next Wednesday."  I remember one patient was admitted for chronic insomnia.  On the Sexual Behaviors unit, people would be admitted for evaluation-- was the old guy who touched his niece when he was drunk a pedophile, or was this an unusual behavior inspired by the fact that he was drunk?  Was he a danger?  And someone could be admitted (electively) for urges to commit sexual offenses.  Things have changed.  So maybe it's not that outrageous to strip search someone who's admitted because they are imminently dangerous, or maybe it is---our readers comment about the trauma of it, how it deters them from being hospitalized when they should be, about feeling violated and having old sexual traumas evoked.  

If hospitals have different policies and they don't have different rates of violence with weapons/ problems with smuggled drugs, then changes should be made.  Some readers have written in about more sensitive means of searching patients, and Clink now thinks hospital should employ trained, cute, dogs to sniff out contraband.  I'm all for it.  What about those with dog allergies?


rob lindeman said...

Sorry to quibble (really!). This is a survey, not a poll. My blood pressure initially rose at the prospect that you were going to poll your readers about strip searching. I'm pleased that's not the case. Might you consider changing the post title?

Dinah said...

Am I missing some pun here? I looked it up:

You're right, it's a survey because there are multiple questions (only if you check Yes), but there ain't going to be any great data analysis.

Why am I changing the post title?

rob lindeman said...

I disagree that "[p]olls and surveys are often used for the same purpose of building opinions." Surveys gather information, primarily. Polls take a pulse, so to speak.

If you want to gather information regarding readers' experience with strip searching, perform a survey. If you want to know our opinion about it (please don't ask), take a poll. That's why you should change the title. It's misleading.

Dinah said...

You didn't really sell me, but whatever, I aim to please, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for your stroke, so I changed the title.
For the record, I'm not always this easy.

Off to peel apples and pit dates.

Anonymous said...


Most of the people I know who get admitted, including, me, and yes it is hard to get admitted, do not want to be admitted and are not dangerous in the sense that they would a living soul. They just want to die. I don't consider suicide a danger in the same way as homicide or arson.
Did you salt the water?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Are the last two questions only if you answered yes to the second question (voluntary patient) or are they if you answered yes to being strip searched? And wouldn't you want to know the type of hospital whether a person was strip searched or not as it might show a trend? Sorry to nit pick, I'm just interested in the issue.

Sarebear said...

Honestly it would be "good" to have a place to go when you feel like you are going to do stupid behaviors (cheating on your husband, for example) and feel like you can't stop no matter how hard you try . . . see cause now I think I may have to kill myself in order to stop from doing it again, and how could I be such a bad person esp. after I saw the look on his face a few weeks ago . . . my psychologist is on top of things and I'm trying to get in to my old psychiatrist for meds since the new route I was going isn't working out . . .

Anyway, it sounds like in the "old" days they understood that wanting to do reckless stuff, I mean really feeling dragged kicking and screaming towards it no matter how hard you fought, would be benefited by having a safe place away from those choices.

Not that I'm saying I don't take responsibility for my choices, I do, but I also know I don't want to do these things when I'm not manic. I just don't. That knowledge is one of the few things keeping me from hating myself entirely, these days.

They took away my method, earlier this week, so I guess I'm safe, unless I get really desperate and figure something else out, which I might.

In my head I know making big decisions right now would be stupid, since I'm being swayed, affected by the mania, but on the other hand it FEELS like I NEED risky, edgy, dangerous stuff like I need to breathe. ARGH.

Sunny CA said...

I am sorry you are feeling that way, Sarebear. I hope you can keep yourself safe from both risky behaviors and suicidal actions.

Would it help to talk to your husband? Is your psychologist available for a telephone call? Is there anyone else in your life you can talk to?

You are a good person. Please get yourself through this successfully.

Alana said...

I haven't had to endure a strip search as such, so I selected 'no'.

At 14 however, I was forced to strip COMPLETELY naked and stand in different positions while two male doctors talked about my body and pubertal development while drawing pictures. This was when admitted for anorexia nervosa.

There was a young female nurse ring in -- to protect THEM. Not me. It remained extremely distressing. Oh and by the way the also wanted to do this in front of a large group of student doctors. No thanks.

Dinah said...

Anon: yes I salted the water, but not until later.

Anon: if you answered No to being strip searched, you're done with the survey. I'm not sure the hospital type matters so much, but I was curious, so far, no one was in a state hospital. Remember, I'm a curious blogger, not a researcher. I figured I just wanted a trend for places that do this, and I figure once a poll....ummm...survey takes more than a minute, no one wants to bother.

FrankandMary said...

Talk about intense. ....just reading... ~Mary

Sarebear said...

Thanks, Sunny. Your kindness helps.

If I'm still wanting certain things later today I may call my psychologist. Perhaps Easter may distract me for a day or two.

I'm going to start back on Lamictal so that'll help some.

rob lindeman said...

BTW, at one of the seders I asked my 11-year old if he knew the difference between a poll and a survey. He nailed it. Such a seichel, that kid!

Sunny CA said...

The request from the Shrink Rappers has been to pretend you are sitting in their living room! Shame on you for your comments on "poll" vs "survey". Your son may know the difference between survey and poll, but is your son learning basic human kindness from you?

The words poll and survey are used very loosely in our society, so I can easily understand using one where the other belongs. I know the difference between active and passive transport, between phospholipids and glycolipids, and between intrinsic and extrinsic proteins, but I don't really know all that much about polls and surveys. What I do know for certain is that I would not come on anybody's blog and tell them that my 11-year-old son knows better.

Perhaps you might reflect on what causes you to be nasty, just for the sake of being nasty. It is not an admirable trait. You should be embarrassed.

Anonymous said...


You ought to have the seichel to teach your kid not to become a shtunk. Humility. Try it on some time.

Anonymous said...

Thats funny. I asked my 11-year old if he knew the difference between a dick and an a**hole. He says they are one and the same.

Lee said...

I'm a regular follower but have never commented. This comment is regarding an older, very popular post you guys have made, found here:
You've mentioned the issues with benzos and abuse, withdrawal, etc. But I feel one of the biggest problems regarding this issue is that 1. many physicians are not prepared to undertake benzo withdrawal and often mistake symptoms of benzo withdrawal for other ailments; and 2. I have seen many patients experience a prolonged withdrawal syndrome after stopping them. Some people, even people who weaned off of them, have had withdrawal symptoms last for months, up to 2 years in some folks. Talk about draining the system - these people have had every medical test known to man only to find that they are fine with the exception of withdrawal symptoms, and these people made a full recovery after around 1-2 years of being off the drug. Could you please look into this issue and perhaps address it in any future posts?

Sarebear said...

testing if I can post, it seems some trojans were interfering with my seeing the word verifies . . . wonder wth someone in romania wants with my info, probably to access accounts. ugh. Anyway.

Kryss said...

I think in general the whole intake process is difficult. All the places I ve been there has been some sort of visual body search...some places allowed underwear others didn't. All hospital stays my trauma history has been well established. Some were specialized units to deal with trauma. The search process differed at each place. At some it was really short but others took their time and that was a huge problem for me. Also, in some places there was alot of reassuring verbal cues...others were just silent or verbal commands like turn around. I think the places that took the time to make it quick, provide context, and remind of safety did the best job.

I apologize for grammar/spelling this was done on my phone.