Migliaccio & Rathod LLP is currently investigating the practice of performing pelvic examinations on anaesthetized patients. Women who were scheduled for a surgical procedure report being informed—after the anesthetic has worn off—that their physician, and the physician’s medical student(s), performed pelvic exams on them. These exams involve the physician’s or the medical student’s probing of the woman’s vagina and cervix and are done for the purpose of teaching students how to identify abnormalities. The practice, however, is done without asking for or receiving the patient’s expressed consent, despite the invasive nature of the exam.
Elle Magazine (June 24, 2019), “Medical Students Regularly Practice Pelvic Exams on Unconscious Patients. Should They?” This spring, ELLE conducted a survey of 101 medical students from seven major American medical schools. Ninety-two percent reported performing a pelvic exam on an anesthetized female patient. Of that group, 61 percent reported performing this procedure without explicit patient consent.
Vice (June 26, 2019), “Med Students Are Doing Vaginal Exams on Unconscious, Non-Consenting Patients” The practice of using non-consenting, unconscious patients as pelvic-exam training tools for medical students has continued to an unknown degree across the country since Silver-Isenstadt, now a pediatrician in Baltimore, first learned about it. It happens not only during gynecological surgeries, but also in the midst of unrelated procedures like stomach surgery.
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