Ethical issues arising from the performance of pelvic examinations by medical students on anesthetized patients

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Feb;190(2):319-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2003.08.035.


Anesthetized women are frequently examined by medical students before gynecologic surgery is performed. We argue that the key element in determining the appropriateness of such examinations is whether there is benefit to the patient as a result. Because every member of a surgical team needs a clear understanding of the nature, goals, and technical steps to be used in carrying out any operation, it is appropriate for a medical student to examine those patients in whose surgery he or she is going to participate as an active member of the surgical team. However, if pelvic examinations are carried out "solely for educational purposes" by students who are not actual members of the operating team, such actions are not appropriate unless specific permission has been obtained from the patient by the surgeon in charge of the case.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Patient Care Team
  • Physical Examination / ethics*
  • Students, Medical*