Why does my mother have to share a hospital room with the opposite sex?

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  • susan luster says:

    After a stroke, I was recently put in a 2 bed room with a male and told to “grow up” when I objected. He refused to wear a gown, insisting on being shirtless with only boxer shorts. For 5 nights I had to listen to him masturbate loudly on the other side of my curtain. As a rape victim this was very upsetting. I have had nightmares since. I will NEVER allow this to happen to me again! Men and women have different attitudes toward this personal behaviour. Please stop disrespecting women in our hospitals.

  • Anne says:

    Instead of properly sorting out your bed situation you are blackmailing the patients by saying to a female patient “ you take our offer of a bed in a room with a male patient or you stay where you are” . This is disgraceful. The worst dump of a pub has seperate toilet facilities for both sexes and are expected to have them. Shopping centres etc the same. Hospitals and their management don’t have any respect for users of the NHS which is paid for from the public purse ie tax payers. Respect for patients dignity and privacy is eroding. It’s no wonder many elderly people don’t want to go to or stay in hospital even though they may need to. They know what is likely to happen to them Re their dignity and privacy. Same happens to younger patients but at least they have a better chance of protecting their privacy and dignity. You can make all kinds of excuses , try blinding the patients with medical terminology and reasons but at the end you know yourself ,that what you are inflicting on many patients ,is wrong, wrong ,wrong under any humane and caring circumstances. Stop making excuses for your lack of proper management and care .

  • Heather says:

    In the random survey of 116 UHN patients, how many of them were men? It’s too bad that you had to threaten people that their stay would be uncomfortable unless they were okay with a roommate of the opposite sex.
    I think that this is very wrong and I’d really like to see what you’d think of your mom or dad, wife or husband, daughter or son, or lover, having to do this?! Of course, it would actually have to happen because anyone can say anything but when something happens, they often don’t do what they say. That holds true with your survey. People often say one thing but…

  • Anne O’Brien says:

    Mr Paul Taylor
    What you are saying is a lie and you know it . This abuse of patients happens way way more than you are admitting. Hospital patients or their family have little or no say as to how they are treated. There is no other institution or business in the civilised world where total strangers of the opposit sex are expected to share rooms and toilets while in night clothes . They are also expected to accept private and intimate exams and procedures in the same room ,with nothing but a piece of fabric hanging on a rail protecting their dignity and bodily privacy. You have the audacity to tell these already vulnerable people that if they don’t accept what you decide they should,
    they can stay in the corridor. You are a disgrace sir and it’s your attitude and others like you ,that have brought the hospital system in Canada and many other countries into disrepute. The problem is not the patients … it’s the appalling bad management in the hospitals.

  • Disgusted says:

    My mom is very confused in hospital, I’d hate to think that anyone of the opposite sex could take advantage of her when no one is aware…has anyone thought of how to protect against this?? This is appalling!!! This is not a comforting thought and my mom would be horrified if she were aware. Makes me question our whole health care system!!!!

  • Anne says:

    Patients are Ill and vulnerable . Dressed in hospital gowns, being asked very personal questions about their condition and bodily functions. I’ve been in mixed sex wards visiting family members and staff regularly do not properly close the curtains when they ate doing intimate examinations. I have gone and closed them. I find your answer blaze and uncaring, there is no privacy in hospital wards anyway
    and mixed sex wards are an insult to patients who deserve more . I hope one day when you are Ill that this total lack of respect is shown to you. You might then come down from your ivory tower.


    • Disgusted says:

      I totally agree with you Anne, disgusting…I’m a nurse!!

    • Anne O’Brien says:

      Sorry my previous post should have been addressed to Debra Carew and not Mr.Taylor who is the reporter. She should be ashamed of herself .

  • Susan says:

    I am disgusted i was just moved from a single room to a room with a male i told them i did not want to but they done it anyway

  • Joanne Bergeron says:

    It’s a sad day when you have to accept sharing a room not to mention a bathroom with a strange man. Ooops sorry …. no we don’t have to accept it, we can sleep in the hallway after surgery. It’s a disgrace!!!

  • Joyce Hamula says:

    This is straight bullshit and you all know it. What happened to a persons right to privacy even being sick? What has happened to our Canada?

  • Sherron MacLeod says:

    After my husbands operation that was scheduled for Dec 20, 2018, my daughter and son in law went in to see him and I was shocked to see him placed in a room with the opposite sex. Sure it had a privacy curtain but the nurse said that we had to leave it open so they could see him, it was only closed when they were checking him. The next visit was even more shocking to me as my husband was put in another room without a window view that he had, and was put in with the opposite sex again. We not given an explanation why he was moved.This time about 2 feet of the curtain track between his bed and the woman in the bed beside him was missing. I mentioned this to the nurse and I was told that it had been missing for some time so there was not any privacy for him or her. When I was there the nursed put him to bed and asked him if he could raise his knees and when they raised them his privates were exposed to all in the room including other visitors. This is unacceptable and shows no respect for the patients privacy. I was very embarrassed for my husband. Maybe because he was in so much pain that he would not notice, but I sure did. This was not a emergency placement in this room, my husband Don’s operation was scheduled weeks ahead so there was no need to put him in with women. I believe that the patient or the spouse or family should be asked if placement in a co-gender room would be acceptable. My husband is Donald MacLeod and 7 years ago he had a double lung transplant at this same hospital, Toronto General Hospital and he and I were so pleased with the all male room. This is totally unacceptable and shows how our privacy rights are being taken away, not to mention patients dignity.

  • Linda says:

    No patient should be forced to share a room with an opposite sex patient, or be denied medical treatment. 39% of Canadian women report being sexually assaulted at least once in their life, according to the Ontario Sexual Assault website. For many of us women, sharing a room with a man – especially after surgery or sedation – is very emotionally traumatic and the practice can also put us at risk for further sexual assault. This practice is an indication of a very broken system that has no regard for the emotional and physical safety of their patients.

  • Mary Holt says:

    It is disgraceful that our healthcare system is allowing men and women in the same hospital room. I ABSOLUTELY HATE mixed gender hospital rooms. This shows that hospitals truly DO NOT CARE about the wellbeing of their patients. My elderly father does not appreciate being in a mixed gender hospital room, as a sexual assault survivor, I despise these rooms.

  • Cathy Legere says:

    I realize that this article was published in 2013 but it is as relavent tday as it was then.

    My mother in law is 90. She is lovely. She was assaulted in February this year by a 30year old male psych patient in the bed next to her. The psych patient had a male guard. There were 2 male patients and 2 female patients in the ward room where she was moved from.
    Would I feel comfortable at the age of 51 with having a man next to me. Absolutely not. Would I feel safe knowing that my privacy was asssured…absolutely not.
    Hospital curtains move, they have frequent openings between them, and staff frequently don’t show discretion when pulling one back. Was it appropriate to place this 90 year old lovely lady in a hospital room with 2 male room mates? Ask the nurses on the floor. They say no….it is never appropriate. But apparently ‘it is the best they could do’.
    This unethical practice will have to be changed at the provincial level through new legislation. Unfortunately, in this example, the decision-makers should have had a degree in Health Administration and not in Business Administration. In healthcare, it is not just about dollars.

  • Ana Celina Olivares says:

    I’m not agree with sharing room in hospital with a man after being admitted to hospital.

  • Ana Celina Olivares says:

    I’m not agree with a man and woman share room in the hospital wins….after being ingress

  • Vicki says:

    Our health care system has reached an all time low! I can’t believe anyone would be ok with this ridiculous new practice.

  • A says:

    I have PTSD due to assault and I would be utterly triggered by being forced to share a room with a man I didn’t know. This is barbaric.

  • Charlotte says:

    Better than being all alone and avoided in a room. I have nothing against co-gendering.

    • Ana Celina Olivares says:

      Completely agree with you

    • susan luster says:

      Charlotte, This practice has been tried in many countries and is now being totally reversed. IT DOESN”T WORK!!! Too many incidents occurred with males misbehaving and not being socialized with sharing hospital rooms with unknown women. Would you share a hotel room with a complete male stranger? Of course not. What if you were ill, dizzy, weak or in pain, and were given sedatives to help you sleep? I have had two horrific situations, including one with a patient who’s husband insisting on yelling on the phone all night by her bed, while he did business on the other side of the world. He exposed himself with an open curtain after having been given oral sex by his bedridden wife. He then threatened me with his fist up to my face when I complained. I slept in fear that night.

    • susan luster says:

      There is a real danger to sleeping in the same room with a strange male. Most men are not socialized in a similar manner as women, when it comes to the idea of sleeping in a hospital room overnight, with a member of the other sex. I initially thought it would be no problem, but hearing a male loudly masterbating just a few feet from me, for 5 nights in a row, with only a curtain between us, kept me from feeling safe to sleep. Never again!

  • Jenna Gilespie says:

    I am sure men would have less of an issue with this, but I am a woman. I would not want to be placed in a mixed-gender room. Women in North America have been socialized to do what they can to protect themselves against possible violations by the opposite sex. Men have not been socialized to worry about this for themselves, and many men will feel less vulnerability sharing a room with women. This is why women are less enthusiastic about strange men sharing a room with them. Fair or not, women shoulder more of a burden in this society for making choices that offer self-protection. Intensive care units and emergency rooms cannot be viewed the same as regular rooms where patients are receiving treatment and recovering with less staff observation. Being extremely uncomfortable hampers recovery and recovery is not just a physical process, it is an emotional and psychological one as well. Being exposed to patients of the opposite sex and male patients that may be on narcotic painkillers make the possibility of sexual molestations and/or assaults entirely possible. As well, the legal implications for hospitals and health authorities are great.

  • David says:

    I think it is ridiculous to have mixed gendered rooms. My mom is in one now with three men. A lady from Japan experienced it and thought we are 3rd world to be doing such a thing. I agree. It shows you the new lows we are taking because of a more basic problem .. .not having enough care in hospitals despite the high taxes we pay for “free” health care.


Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor is a health journalist and former Patient Navigation Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he provided advice and answered questions from patients and their families. Paul will continue to write occasional columns for Healthy Debate.

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