The issue of participation in torture by CIA doctors, nurses, psychologists during the Bush Administration’s war on terrorism is still alive. In a Viewpoint article in JAMA, Sondra S. Crosby and Leonard H. Glantz, of Boston University School of Medicine, demand to know who was responsible for the brutal practice of “rectal feeding”.
This procedure became public knowledge about ten years ago, but the authors of the article now want the participating medical staff to be called to account. An American judge found that “rectal feeding could not be justified as a legitimate medical practice”.
Once a physician determines that artificial administration of nutrition is medically necessary, the standard method to deliver nutrition is through a nasogastric or orogastric tube, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, jejunostomy, or intravenously through a deep vein. Rectal feeding is no longer recognized as a legitimate medical practice. Even those who advocate for forcibly feeding individuals participating in hunger strikes never suggest the use of rectal feeding.
The authors describe the procedure, which seems to have been used about five times, as medicalised rape, which could cause serious physical and psychological harm. Physicians for Human Rights have condemned the practice as “sexual assault masquerading as medical treatment.” The JAMA authors are demanding that the healthcare personnel responsible be identified and brought to justice:
professional medical organizations must insist that federal officials, including Congress, identify the medical officers (including any who may have been physicians, physician assistants, and nurses) who participated in anal rape of federal detainees so that licensing agencies, or courts, could determine whether action is warranted against them. The medical professions should not stand silent when their members commit atrocities under the guise of medicine.