Exams Under Anesthesia (EUAs) are common, but are they a type of assault?

Many doctors-in-training and medical students are asked to perform pelvic exams on anesthetized women during surgeries. Many supervising physicians and surgeons feel they are essential for learning (and for diagnosis and management of patients intraoperatively). But what if a patient didn’t directly consent to students and trainees performing such exams while they are unconscious in the OR?

Bodily autonomy and informed consent are at the center of this issue.

How can patients protect themselves if they DON’T want students doing these exams?

The best approach is to state that you don’t agree to a pelvic exam while unconscious and document it on the consent form. While illegal in a handful of states, EUAs without direct consent are still legal everywhere else…maybe that needs to change?

Awareness is key, so share this video and talk to your loved ones before surgery to make sure their wishes will be known.

Remember: training medical students well is crucial, but doing so in a way that avoids creating moral distress in them (i.e., moral distress caused by forcing them to do pelvics under anesthesia when the patient didn’t directly consent) is clearly possible via the use of appropriate consent processes. Watch the original video here on Facebook and leave your stories and comments.

Leave a Reply