Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Forcible Retraction on an Intact Male Infant/Child: Don't Let It Happen To Your Son!

my poor sick bug

My youngest child(7 months old), "L" has had a fever the last 3 days. I became very worried when it spiked this morning to 105.5 degrees fahrenheit. After a dose of Tylenol, I took him in to the Emergency Room, like many concerned parents would do. They took his temperature, which had dropped to 103. Still, the previous temperature had us very worried. We waited for them to get everything together to get urine and blood. I was told that using a catheter to catch his urine would be best because "the extra skin cells(his foreskin) would affect the test results and contaminate the culture".

I gave consent, and they go ahead with the procedure. I was horrified as the nurse pulled his skin back to reveal his little "head". She wasn't gentle with inserting the catheter, either. The nurse kept jamming it, trying to get it into his bladder, but the catheter was too big. L started crying even before the catheter because his foreskin started bleeding. And he was screaming bloody murder he was in so much pain. I felt sick to my stomach and started crying. My 5.5 year old son was with me and was alarmed at how much pain his little brother was in. He started crying as well. I then started shaking in anger, because the nurse persisted with her jabbing the catheter with force that shouldn't be used on ANYONE that is having something foreign put into their body and not paying attention to him bleeding.

I fought such an internal battle of telling her to stop, but feared being ridiculed. I finally told her I wanted them to use a bag to catch his urine instead. "Oh no, I'll have someone else try to do it. I just can't get it past his urethra," she said dismissing my comment.

As she left, the attending doctor came back to see my son and her jaw fell open as she surveilled the scene in the room. My puffy, teary eyes, my screaming infant son with a catheter hanging out of him and my older son, crying in a chair off to the side. She removed the catheter and had me put my son to the breast to calm him. The doctor gingerly put a urine bag over his penis and put a diaper on him, apologized and informed me of the blood test results, which showed he was fighting an infection, possibly a urinary tract infection and that he would need antibiotics.

His urine tested positive for infection as well. He received a 24 hour antibiotic shot and we were released with a script for his medicine. I feel horrible for not knowing to advocate my son's needs. I feel guilty for not telling them to not use a catheter on him. I feel like a bad mom for allowing that stupid nurse to forcibly retract his foreskin. I am writing a letter of complaint to the hospital and asking them to educate their staff on how to care for intact boys. Never ever forcibly retract a boy's foreskin. Here are some links I am providing in my letter to the hospital, so more people can be educated and advocate for their children. Information is power, and our voice is important, because our children don't have one yet.


If there are more links you would like me to include or write about, please email them to me at allthingsmommy2@yahoo.com or post on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/allthingsmommy


  1. Oh I am so sorry you and sweet boy had to go through that! shameful behavior on the part of a medical professional! Hope you are all doing better by now!

  2. Your story makes me want to cry. My son (5 months) is also intact, and with all of the stories I've heard I keep bracing myself for the eventual fight with some ignorant medical professional who wants to retract his foreskin.

    I hope the hospital gets the message. Hugs to you and your family!

  3. I am so sorry for you. It is really sad that a nurse wouldn't already know that you should never do that. And I know what you mean about being afraid to tell them. I have come across that with myself and trying to tell them what they need to do for me and I always get I know what I am doing.

  4. I just recently came across this post which also mentions several links.

    And this one is incredibly detailed general information:

    I've been in a similar though MUCH milder version of your situation and uncomfortably remember 'unwittingly going along with what is recommended' out of surprise. In our case it was only: (during a checkup for something else)
    DR: 'have you been pulling back the foreskin?' (of our then 2 or 2.5 year old)
    ME: 'uh, do I need to?'
    ...during which time she had already done so and was able to report that it was almost completely 'separated' only a little bit to go and that I should do this regularly to ensure this went properly.

    Later, when consequently looking into this, everything I came across said it wasn't necessary and that doing so could cause problems (due to scarring from the stretch which would tighten the skin!). At a later vist to a urologist (for that other issue) I also asked if this was necessary (NO!)and I sensed he seemed rather surprised that his colleague did this. Grrr.

    We did however end up including this as part of the wash routine as we feared that any possibly scarring (due to stretching) might otherwise create a problem where there would otherwise have been none. (I spare you the details that convinced us this was best in our situation ;-))

    Its so incomprehensible, at such a basic level, that that nurse could be so insensitive! Is that not part of the job? I wish everyone involved a good recovery and no emotional or physical scars!

  5. I was a nursing student when I had my son. He was a newborn and intact because my husband is British. I also had a seasoned ER nurse try to forcibly retract his foreskin, and I pulled my son away from her. Even as a nursing student, I told her that you never pull back a baby's foreskin, it will begin to break away naturally when he's an older child and then completely in puberty. She got angry at me and tried to say, "Well how am I supposed to cath him?" I said, you straight cath him like you would anyone else. Once she did it, she said it was much easier that way and that she would never retract a child's skin again. I had to explain to her that all these "complications" people have with babies foreskins is mostly due to forcible retraction. Don't even get me started on doing clinicals in long term care... try educating a bunch of careless Aide's about foreskins and dealing with some that hadn't been rolled or cleaned under in months. The contractures were horrible. I had a man who fought the Nazi's cry because I spent an hour working his skin back to give him a proper bath, the Aide's hadn't even been cleaning between his toes. It was everything I could do to hold my breakdown in until break. American healthcare workers are woefully uneducated about intact penises.

  6. Thank you all for your support. I am going to continue following up with the hospital to make sure their nurses have the knowledge they SHOULD have. Please share this, so no one else has to go through this.

  7. Oh my gosh, the same thing happened to my son, except he was not quite 2 weeks old when it happened....he wasn't gaining weight appropriately (according to the doctors) and they wanted to get a urine sample...they forcibly retracted his foreskin and tried to insert a catheter that ended up being way too big and she had to try again...I almost passed out because I looked at my tiny little baby with his penis bleeding and he was screaming bloody murder! The doctor was upset that the nurse did that but nothing else ever came of it. To this day I am able to retract my son's foreskin (I tried to see if it had grown back adhered or had remained unattached...he is now 15 months old). I just hope that he doesn't have any problems later in life.

  8. I feel horrable you guys had to go through that. Im so sorry. You had no idea. You cant blame yourself. You sound like a very loving mother.