News: Medical students should have consent for gyn exams

August 1, 2008

Asking medical students to perform "intimate" exams on anesthetized patients without their consent is a violation of basic human rights.

Asking medical students to perform "intimate" examinations on anesthetized patients without their informed consent is a violation of basic human rights, according to an editorial in the July issue of Student BMJ.

Ohad Oren, a third-year medical student, and Gershon B. Grunfeld, PhD, a lecturer in medical ethics and law from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, write that a group of Israeli medical students refused to perform pelvic exams on anesthetized female patients without their informed consent earlier this year.

Some gynecologists argue that pelvic exams are routine practice, or that patients seen in a teaching hospital already understand that medical students will be involved in their care, and therefore informed consent is unnecessary. However, the authors note that a basic tenet of medical ethics is a respect for patient autonomy, which is behind the principle of informed consent. They argue that performing an intimate exam on a patient without the patient's explicit consent is a gross violation of the patient's autonomy and shows a lack of respect.

Oren O, Grunfeld G. Informed consent and intimate examinations. Student BMJ. July 2008. Available online at http:// http://student.bmj.com/issues/08/07/editorials/262.php. Accessed July 28, 2008.