Yesterday, Toronto’s Globe and Mail dropped a bomb on Canadian women: it’s standard practice in Canadian hospitals for women to be given unnecessary practice pelvic exams by medical students while they are unconcious under general anasthesia. Without their knowledge of consent.
Um…what? We have a place for people who like to probe women’s private bits without consent, and it’s not our teaching hospitals. It’s called prison.
In general I’d like the U.S. health care system to be more like Canada’s, but I was vastly relieved to note that U.S. and European hospitals explicitly forbid this practice.
“Medical students routinely practice doing internal pelvic examinations while surgery patients are unconscious, and without getting specific consent, at least in Canada,” the Globe and Mail’s
A recently published survey of patients at a Canadian gynecological clinic revealed that fewer than 1 in 5 were aware that a practice exam might be performed on their private parts by medical students while they were unconcious. Over 70 percent said they expected to be asked for consent before being subjected to a pelvic exam.
The Canadian medical establishment’s argument in favor of stealth pelvic exams is simple: medical students need to learn how to do a gynecological exam, and no one would agree to being a guinea pig for them to practice on.
The argument is wrong though. The same research that shows women don’t know about this practice also revealed that 62 percent of them would agree to the exams if asked. An additional 5 percent would agree only if it were a female medical student doing it. That’s lots of opportunities for informed, consensual practice exams.
If you’re outraged by this, you can sign Her Bad Mother’s open letter to the Canadian Medical Authorities. Let them know women deserve to be informed about who is doing what to their bodies.
Photo: Public Domain