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If you are having surgery, you need to read this.

January 27, 2010

I read something today that I had never even thought about.

Medical students in Canada (and probably other countries as well) practice pelvic exams on women who are under anesthesia.

In a survey of medical students, 76% had done a pelvic exam on an anesthetized woman.   That’s 3 out of every 4 medical students!  The number may be even higher if residents were included.

They do not ask permission in advance.  They do not tell the women after the fact.  They do not even ask the women if it is okay for a medical student to be in the operating room.  The woman is treated as an educational prop.

Has this happened to me?  I have to assume so.  Does anyone know if this is common practice at all medical schools?

Do they practice rectal exams on men?  Maybe?  Probably?

If you are scheduled for surgery, ASK QUESTIONS!

And bravo to the male medical student who refused to do such an exam and triggered the study conducted by his sister!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. ilovebeeswarzone permalink
    January 27, 2010 6:49 pm

    i dint know that thank you.

  2. Fritz permalink
    January 29, 2010 9:28 pm

    Hey, I just had surgery last week. And now that you mention it…my backside hurt. Now I have a whole new reason to hate going to the hospital!

  3. Michele permalink*
    January 29, 2010 10:11 pm

    Just cross your fingers and hope that you don’t end up on youtube.

  4. Michele permalink*
    February 5, 2010 11:34 am

    I found that article amusing. He acts as if the Globe & Mail columnist pulled the 72% statistic out of thin air. It came from a study conducted by a physician who had done it herself. (See my link above.)

    I’m planning to ask a few physicians if they ever did this as medical students. Of course, they could just lie.

    And I don’t think “do you mind if I touch something the surgeon thinks that I should?” is a good enough question to elicit consent from patients. The doctors should be more specific. I want to know who is doing what to me and when.

  5. Michele permalink*
    February 5, 2010 11:59 am

    Another thought:

    Medical students are also supposed to learn about ethics and clinical practice. Shouldn’t they know whether or not consent has been obtained and how that consent was obtained?

    At the very least, medical students are being TAUGHT that it’s okay to perform physical exams on anesthesized patients without explicit consent from the patient. How do we know this? Because the students THINK that they performed pelvic exams without patient consent. So, even if consent was obtained, the student didn’t know about it.

    I think there is a lot of CYA going on this week in medical schools.

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