Pennsylvania lawmakers call for informed patient consent

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House would require medical schools, teaching hospitals, and medical institutions to receive patient consent for all procedures and exams performed under anesthesia by medical students for training purposes.

​Medical students are sometimes instructed to perform invasive procedures like pelvic or rectal exams on patients under anesthesia, often without that patient’s knowledge.​​

Ten states have passed legislation to require explicit informed consent.

​​”I think we should all take a moment to imagine what that would be like, to learn that, while we were under anesthesia in the care of a medical professional, we may have been violated. And we may never know what happened,” said Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D-Philadelphia), one of the bill’s prime sponsors.​​

California was the first state to pass a law requiring consent before pelvic exams on anesthetized patients for teaching purposes.​​

A 2018 survey conducted by Elle Magazine found that 92 percent of medical students surveyed had performed pelvic exams on anesthetized patients. Most of them did not know whether the patient had given consent.​

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