Ethics & law
Should I have spoken out when a patient told the doctor to stop?
Marika Davies, a medicolegal adviser, gives advice on some common ethical dilemmas faced by medical students
You may often find it difficult to speak up, especially as a junior member of the team in a situation where you are uncertain, and when you are understandably keen to have a good relationship with your seniors. Sometimes it is only on further reflection after an event that its importance becomes apparent, leading to worry that you should have done something differently at the time.
The patient will have been comforted by your presence, but you have good reason to feel concerned about what happened. Firstly, with regard to the issue of patient consent: this is an essential requirement for any procedure, and can be withdrawn by the patient at any time. When the patient asked the doctor to stop she should have respected this and stopped as soon as it was safe to do so. She should then have had a further discussion with the patient