Don't ask, don't tell: a change in medical student attitudes after obstetrics/gynecology clerkships toward seeking consent for pelvic examinations on an anesthetized patient

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Feb;188(2):575-9. doi: 10.1067/mob.2003.85.


Objective: We explore whether the completion of an obstetrics/gynecology clerkship is associated with a decline in the importance that students place on seeking permission from the patient before conducting a pelvic examination while she is anesthetized.

Study design: Students at five Philadelphia area medical schools (n = 401 students) were asked how important it would be for a patient to be told that a medical student will perform a pelvic examination while she is anesthetized. We examined associations between the completion of an obstetrics/gynecology clerkship and attitudes toward consent with the use of linear regression to adjust for gender and the total amount of clerkship experience.

Results: After the data were controlled for gender and the total number of clerkships that had been completed, we found that students who had completed an obstetrics/gynecology clerkship thought that consent was significantly less important than did those students who had not completed a clerkship (P =.01).

Conclusion: To avoid this decline in attitudes toward seeking consent, clerkship directors should ensure that students perform examinations only after patients have given consent explicitly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Female
  • Gynecology*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Obstetrics*
  • Pelvis
  • Physical Examination*
  • Students, Medical*