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Women must give consent for pelvic exam: MD

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WINNIPEG — Women put under anesthetic for obstetrics and gynecological surgery are not subjected to pelvic examinations by medical students unless they have given consent, health officials said Friday.

Dr. Maggie Morris, medical director of the women’s health program and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, said guidelines were set up by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada in 2006, to prevent unauthorized pelvic examinations by students.

"This is a very important issue for us," Morris said. "Our patients deserve informed consent and the aim is to provide that."

Morris was commenting about an article in the Globe and Mail earlier this week that stated medical students routinely did internal pelvic examinations on unconscious patients without getting specific consent.

Morris said the article was incorrect and misquoted part of the guidelines.

But Morris said students do need to learn how to perform pelvic examinations and the SOGC guidelines describes the proper procedure that needs to be followed to have it occur during surgery.

Morris said if the patient doesn’t want to have a student participate in the surgery, they will not.

"We would never traipse students in while a patient is asleep," she said. "It would be a violation of the society’s guidelines."

Morris said the students referred to in the article must not have realized that patients give their consent to doctors weeks before the surgery, when the students are not present.

Even if a patient has given consent, the students still have to introduce themselves before the surgery begins, Morris said --and there are other people present.

"They don’t examine patients unsupervised in the operating room," she said.
 

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