While You Were Anesthetized…

Here’s a scary little tidbit that I think every Canadian woman should know. If you must undergo routine surgery at a teaching hospital, as it currently stands, after they’re done, Obstetrics and Gynecology students can parade in and perform pelvic exams on you while you are still asleep, and they can do it without your consent. Apparently, they think consent is implicit. In the United States and Britain, one must agree to have trainees do this, but not up here in Canada.

I said pardon? I know students have to learn somewhere, but I’d like to be given the choice and the right to say yes or no. It scares the fuck out of me that after they finished giving me that colonoscopy years ago, if I had been at a teaching hospital, they could have done who knows what to me.

What is wrong with Sara Wainberg? How could she have done this to patients and not thought it was wrong? Med school really teaches doctors to look at us as a series of parts, doesn’t it? Thankfully, her brother still had a shred of humanity left in him and made her think about it.

She has done a study, and you know what? over half of women would say yes if asked. That’s the point. It’s not that trainees are doing it, it’s that we’re not given the right to say yes or no. I do have to laugh that some of the women surveyed would only say yes if the student is female. And then we wonder why some male gynecologists suck at giving a pelvic exam.

Here’s a question for anyone who may know. Are similar things done to men? After a man has routine surgery, do trainees practice doing prostate exams on him while he’s still under? If so, that’s just as wrong. If not, then that makes the practice of examining women under anesthesia without their consent even worse.

And here’s another thought. How is performing pelvic exams on someone while they are sedated training doctors at all about how to do it without causing pain? She can’t very well say “Ouch!” if she’s sleeping. This is bullshit. I would rather have given consent and have been awake to allow someone to train properly and give feedback. Interns are a fact of life, especially at a *teaching* hospital, but in no way should they do things to me without me giving my consent.

Eek! I hope that if I ever need surgery at a teaching hospital, they have changed this practice.

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