Informed consent and intimate examinations
Israeli students are refusing to perform intimate examinations on anaesthetised women without their informed consent. Ohad Oren and Gershon Grunfeld argue their case
- By: Ohad Oren, Gershon B Grunfeld
Early this year a group of morally disturbed medical students refused to participate in a gynaecological procedure they were asked to participate in. They strongly objected to performing pelvic examinations on anaesthetised female patients without first obtaining specific informed consent.1
The medical community faced accusations of battery and assault. In response, Joseph Schenker, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Hadassah-University Hospital of Jerusalem, explained that the gynaecological examination was a critical and irreplaceable part of every operation. He added that simulated exams on manikins, attempted half a century ago, were not useful.
Some specialists consider pelvic examinations to be a part of ordinary medical practice in their discipline, for which, therefore, specific consent is not needed.2 Many gynaecologists at teaching hospitals even consider a patient's consent to pelvic examination trivial. They assume that patients understand that because they are in a teaching hospital, medical students and junior doctors will