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Uhh...Wouldn't That be Sexual Assault?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I just can't even say how much this terrifies me, despite being a three year old news story.

Pelvic Exams on Unconscious Women

I'd never heard of this, till someone told me that when they were in the hospital after a car accident, they found out that 10 medical students had "practiced" vaginal exams on her while she was under anesthesia to have her broken leg set.

That's right. You heard me. Ten medical students giving her a vaginal exam without her consent. Apparently, standard practice in most teaching hospitals until just a few years ago.

From the article:

Most medical students today learn the basics of the pelvic exam by practicing on paid volunteers but eventually need to move on to real patients.

Anesthetized women are the perfect subjects, doctors said, because they are relaxed and unable to feel the sometimes painful mistakes of novice examiners.

Consent is still far from a universal practice.

At the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, patients are told that students will be part of their care team, but aren't specifically told the treatment could include a pelvic exam for educational purposes.

There are similar policies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

"I don't think any of us even think about it. It's just so standard as to how you train medical students," said Dr. Jessica Bienstock, residency program director at Johns Hopkins.

The good news...students are speaking up.

Changes in that practice have taken place over the past five years after complaints from students who felt the exams without consent were unethical.

"My problem was that if they found out about it, they might be really upset, and it was really only being done for my benefit," said Dr. Ari Silver-Isenstadt, who refused to examine anesthetized women as a student at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I felt like I would be violating their trust," he said.

Ummm HECK YEAH it violates my trust when you go sticking your hands in my va-jay-jay while I'm unconscious.

The part that terrifies me is that the mom I mentioned earlier was 5 months pregnant. 10 students poking around in there? Can you even imagine what would have happened if one of them had accidentally damaged her cervix, or worse yet, broken her water?

I'm just steamed over this.


  1. Blogger Carrie Huggins | 8:05 PM |  

    I can hardly believe this. I see precious little difference between this practice and Dentists who fondle their patients while they're under anesthetic. WOW. So they do pelvics. Do they do testicular exams on men who are unconscious?

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:30 PM |  

    That's disgusting! I can't believe it, I'm steamed too. And surprised to hear that Johns Hopkins, our local hospital one of the top in the country was doing it too.

  3. Blogger paxye | 12:48 PM |  

    Omg... i'm speechless...

    Yes, I agree, it is assult!

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:37 PM |  

    Wow, people never seize to disgust me. As a patient you have the legal right to accept or refuse ANY treatment. How can you do that if you are unconscious?
    I've heard of a case where a woman was getting back surgery by two men and was "checked out" by them. So freaking disgusting and unethical.
    How could you live with yourself after sexually assaulting someone? How could you call this education?

  5. Blogger bruce | 4:12 PM |  

    Pelvic examinations are also performed on men under anesthetic for teaching purposes. Interestingly, I'm not familiar with a case of a female student refusing to practice on unpaid male patients. However male students now commonly refuse to pratice on unpaid female patients. The dichotomy is interesting.

    In hospitals which discontinue this practice it has been discontinued for both sexes. At least all that I've heard of.

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