SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Senate Bill 188 proposes mandatory consent for pelvic exams where the patient is under anesthesia. Utah would be the 6th state to pass a similar law.
Medical students report that while in training they were instructed to give patients under anesthesia a pelvic exam to practice their skills, but the patients were never asked or informed.
Phoebe Friesen is a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford. She worked with medical students on ethics at NYU a couple of years ago. She said, “This topic of pelvic exams on women who were under anesthetic and haven’t consented came back so frequently. A lot of the students felt really uncomfortable with the fact that they were being asked to practice something they knew had no clinical benefit for the patient.”
Friesen explained that the attending physician had a distinctly different perspective because of their role, but that the patient’s perspective must be considered.
Connor Boyack with the Libertas Institute has supported Utah’s SB 188 and said, “We’ve heard informally from physicians and medical students that this does not happen in Utah, they’ve never heard of this, they never experienced it, to which we say, great let’s just make clear in the law that this should never happen in the future.”
If the bill passes, consent for educational pelvic examinations for women and men would be required in writing and verbally, and the patient would have full control over who can perform the exam and who can be present.