Undergoing an invasive pelvic exam while you are under anesthesia may be
cause for a
medical malpractice lawsuit.

In a world full of unspeakable things, where one should feel safe in a
hospital while in the hands of good doctors, comes the latest highly unsettling
news; pelvic exams performed on women without their consent while they
are under anesthesia. If this doesn’t make you cringe and wonder
what the devil those doctors think they are doing, nothing will. In most
instances when this kind of violation occurs, it has been done by medical students.

How can they do this without the patient’s consent? This is the $64
million dollar question with seemingly no really good answer and a serious
violation, but it’s being done in the US and in Canada. This very
personal and very private routine exam normally done in a doctor’s
office or at the behest of a gynecologist is being done whenever and wherever
possible in hospitals to unconscious patients.

Is this kind of activity just the tip of the iceberg and are there other
nasty little secrets being withheld from patients? Yet another very pointed
question that no one seems to be in a hurry to answer. This ‘secret’
was first outted by a Canadian doctor, Dr. Sara Weinberg, whose brother
called her for advice as a result of his rotation on the obstetrics and
gynecology service.

Dr. Weinberg’s brother had been asked to do a pelvic exam on a woman
under anesthetic. He would not do it as he felt that doing it without
informed consent would be unethical. Startled to realize she had done
the same thing in training, she asked others about their experiences.
It seems that close to 72% had done exams on unconscious patients. The
prevailing argument for doing this was because it offered the medical
students a unique opportunity to practice this very private exam without
causing pain or embarrassment.

For some reason many doctors are of the opinion that patients don’t
want students performing this type of exam. That may well be the case,
but it doesn’t make it acceptable to turn around and have it done
to someone who is out like a light and totally vulnerable. Sneaking around
to do this kind of exam without permission hits a new level of low behavior
in the medical field.

While some may be thinking the woman knew about this exam prior to surgery
and anesthesia, the study Dr. Weinberg conducted discovered that perhaps
one in five may be aware this type of exam would be performed on them
while unconscious. Whether or not there are patients who may agree to
this type of an exam under these circumstances is not the point. The point
is it isn’t ethical to do it without permission, and this doesn’t
even begin to address the possibilities of injuries to the cervix at the
hands of some of the clumsier students; the risk of infection or the possibility
of internal injuries due to the slip of an instrument. Good medicine means
informed consent and patients being treated with respect and dignity.
An invasive non-consensual pelvic exam done under anesthesia is not treating
the patient with respect and dignity.