Invasion of privates-y
It's raising questions about whether the women consented. A McMaster medical school graduate has revealed the majority don't know students do pelvic exams while they're anesthetized.
Her study, published this month in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, found only 19 per cent of women were aware a medical student might have examined them.
As a result, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario plans to speak with Ontario's medical schools about patient consent.
"It was a surprise," said Kathryn Clarke, spokesperson for the college. "That practice, even occurring on a small scale, is intolerable."
At issue is how much detail doctors have to give patients to get consent.
A pelvic exam is an integral part of the surgery. Doctors do the exam after the patient is unconscious because they can get a better sense of her anatomy when she is relaxed. That exam guides decisions such as how to make the incision.
In Hamilton, that exam is routinely done three times -- by the doctor, a resident and a student.
Women in Hamilton aren't explicitly told the resident and student will do a pelvic exam. They're told they'll have an exam before surgery and asked if medical students can take part in the operation.
Doctors say by consenting to have students on the surgical team, they're "implicitly" agreeing to allow them to do pelvic exams.
"The consent is for the whole procedure," said Dr. Patrick Mohide, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster.
"A pelvic examination is part of the procedure."
But the study by Dr. Sara Wainberg, who is a resident at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, suggests that's not clear to women.
She questioned 102 women who underwent gynecological surgery at Calgary Pelvic Floor Disorders Clinic.
More than 70 per cent of them say they expect to be asked for consent before medical students conduct pelvic exams under anesthesia.