What is “The Dr. Goldstein Special” and Why Should I Be Afraid?

"The Dr. Goldstein Special"

The Dr. Goldstein Special involves one consensual and two non-consensual surgical procedures, the latter removing healthy tissue, including muscle. The consensual surgery is minimally invasive, while the non-consensual is highly invasive.

“The Dr. Goldstein Special” is a surgical bait-and-switch, a violation of the right to informed consent, supposedly a foundation of American Medicine. However, in reality, informed consent is more of a placating concept; when a doctor violates that right, the entire system will stand by the offender and treat the complainant as if they are the problem. Like the Larry Nassar, Earl Bradley, Robert Hadden, and other notorious cases, “The Dr. Goldstein Special” spotlights the massive failure of the American healthcare system to protect our communities from predators in its halls. The next victim could be YOU!

As revealed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigative report, “Doctors & Sex Abuse,” predatory doctors are a systemic nationwide problem. They get away with their crimes for years or decades because hospital administrators and licensing boards neglect to take action to curb abuse and protect public health as they are charged.

Any hospital or state that tolerates even one predatory healthcare provider is a welcoming environment for that cohort. Predators go where they have access to the largest number of the most vulnerable potential victims, and the least likelihood of accountability. Hospitals and states that protect one malignant operator are magnets for bad players. 

The ChristianaCare Health System (CCHS) in Delaware has fostered the proliferation of “The Dr. Goldstein Special” and protected and enabled its perpetrator for years through its failure to act. Delaware, via Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples, is aligned with the hospital and the predator. She says it is fine that he cut me up and she grants him the privilege of continuing to cut others with impunity. 

What is informed consent and how is it obtained?

According to the American Medical Association, “Informed consent to medical treatment is fundamental in both ethics and law. Patients have the right to receive information and ask questions about recommended treatments so that they can make well-considered decisions about care. Successful communication in the patient-physician relationship fosters trust and supports shared decision-making. The process of informed consent occurs when communication between a patient and physician results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention.” (AMA Code of Medical Ethics)

“The Dr. Goldstein Special” includes two non-consensual procedures that remove healthy tissue. The patient is informed post-op. This is not informed and there is no consent. But Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples says what he does is OK and he can keep doing it to as many women as ChristianaCare can supply him.

When is it ethically acceptable to perform procedures on a patient without informed consent?

The American Medical Association states that “In emergencies, when a decision must be made urgently, the patient is not able to participate in decision making, and the patient’s surrogate is not available, physicians may initiate treatment without prior informed consent. In such situations, the physician should inform the patient/surrogate at the earliest opportunity and obtain consent for ongoing treatment in keeping with these guidelines.”

The decision to cut me was not made in an emergency or urgent situation; Goldstein knew from the first exam–7 months before the surgery–that the rectocele might be something he thought should be repaired. 

What is it called when a doctor performs non-life-saving, non-urgent procedures on a patient without giving them prior knowledge or obtaining their consent? 

Assault. “A surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent, commits an assault, for which he is liable in damages.” (Schloendorff v. New York Hospital)

Assault in the First Degree 

Delaware Code Title 11. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 613. Assault in the first degree;  class B felony. 

(a) A person is guilty of assault in the first degree when:

(1) The person intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument;  or

(2) The person intentionally disfigures another person seriously and permanently, or intentionally destroys, amputates or disables permanently a member or organ of another person’s body.

Goldstein’s actions meet the definition of intentional disfigurement of another person seriously and permanently and intentionally destroying a member of another person’s body with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. He did this to me. It was not medically necessary and even of no proven therapeutic value. The surgeon intended to cause the harmful, offensive and unprivileged touching.  And as a direct and proximate result of the battery committed by Goldstein I have suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of therapy and medicine, loss of ability to tolerate medical environments, inability to undergo sedation and therefore needed medical care, and likely permanent disability. He had no right to touch me.

What is it called when a person attacks another person through their genitals?

Sexual assault. 

Unlawful Sexual Contact in the 3rd Degree

TITLE 11, CHAPTER 5. Subchapter II § 767. Unlawful sexual contact in the third degree; class A misdemeanor.

A person is guilty of unlawful sexual contact in the third degree when the person has sexual contact with another person…and the person knows that the contact is either offensive to the victim or occurs without the victim’s consent.

Goldstein’s actions meet the definition of “Engaging in sexual contact with another person…and defendant knows that the contact…occurs without the victim’s consent.” He did this to me. It was non-consensual, not medically necessary, and not even of substantiated therapeutic value. He had no right to touch me. But Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples says I gave up my protections when I signed the consent form.

What is it called when a person sexually assaults another person with sharp instruments?

At ChristianaCare the nurses call it “The Dr. Goldstein Special.” Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples says it is “within the standard of care.” 

What is it called when a person cuts off chunks of a female’s genitals without consent? 

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). According to the World Health Organization, “Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons…The practice of FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women.” (Female genital mutilation, WHO, January 2023)

How does Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) affect victims?

Non-consensual genital cutting is correlated with negative physical and mental health outcomes such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, somatization, depression, anxiety, phobic anxiety, and hostility. As well, “the various domains of female sexual functioning had been negatively impacted including sexual desire, sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction” and sexual pain. (“Mental and sexual health outcomes associated with FGM/C in Africa: a systematic narrative synthesis,” Esho Tammary, Kumar Manasi, January 10, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101813)

Goldstein’s deception and mutilation of my body have caused me to develop Medical Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (MPTSD). That makes even routine medical visits difficult and prevents me from undergoing any procedure that involves sedation of any kind. This means I cannot have a colonoscopy, and I am at risk, having previously had a bowel resection for a pre-cancerous tumor. It also means I cannot have the 7” of abdominal hernia repaired. This is disabling and puts me at great risk. Gynecological care is particularly problematic. Since the MPTSD set in I have been unable to undergo a pelvic exam or Pap smear. I can hardly tolerate any medical practitioner’s touch. 

Is it ever OK for a doctor to withhold information?

The American Medical Association Code of Ethics states, “Withholding pertinent medical information from patients in the belief that disclosure is medically contraindicated creates a conflict between the physician’s obligations to promote patient welfare and to respect patient autonomy. Except in emergency situations in which a patient is incapable of making an informed decision, withholding information without the patient’s knowledge or consent is ethically unacceptable.”  (AMA Code of Medical Ethics)

In preparing to subject me to “The Dr. Goldstein Special,” the ChristianaCare gynecologist withheld vital information through four office visits over 7 months. That’s not accidental. That’s not a little omission. That is intentional withholding of important information. The AMA says that’s not okay. Why does Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples say it is?

What Is victim grooming and how do perpetrators use it?

Predators “gain the trust of potential…victims…by methodically ‘grooming’ them. This process begins with identifying potential victims, gaining their trust, and breaking down their defenses…After…achieving this trust, the perpetrator initiates some kind of contact that s/he finds sexually gratifying…Grooming helps the offender gain access to the victim, and sets up a relationship grounded in secrecy so that the crime is less likely to be discovered.” Grooming involves premeditation in seeking a traumatic reaction during and after the incident. 

Goldstein used sleight of hand to build my trust. He led me to believe he was a good person when he was plotting to cut a chunk from my genitals in a way that I wouldn’t understand until it was far too late. Instead, he faked niceness to lead me to believe he was being transparent and thoughtful. The devious gynecologist’s grooming tactics included: 

Fake Transparency – Goldstein made a point of telling me he might also wish to perform a cystoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure with few risks or side effects. Of course, his false display of transparency and thoughtfulness led me to believe I could trust him. I had no reason to believe a doctor would want to cause permanent harm to me while I was unable to defend myself.

Feigned Thoughtfulness – After the exam, Goldstein was exceptionally gracious and generous in encouraging me to help myself to feminine products on the tray, very unlike any prior GYN I have visited.

False Pretenses – When I asked about possible tissue removal, Goldstein assured me “there will be no external incisions and no tissue removal,” which was the opposite of what he planned. This was intentional deceit to induce me to sign a contract to which I would otherwise not agree. Since predators generally use the same modus operandi, chances are high that Goldstein does the same to each of his victims. 

Should I be worried about how well Delaware protects residents from predatory doctors?

YES! When I asked Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples how I could protect myself against further potential abuses, she suggested I “talk about consent more” and hope the next surgeon isn’t a mofo, too. Also, I that I should talk to my state representative. In other words, she and the state have no intention of protecting the citizenry from predators in the halls of medicine. It’s like Russian roulette!

What can I do if I’ve been assaulted by a physician?

There is a lot you can do, as described by this article, “How to Hold an Abusive System Accountable.”

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