Sometimes, you're just fooling around on Twitter while the toddler naps and suddenly, some piece of news just slaps you in the face like a wet surgical glove. This, for example: apparently, if you're a woman and you've had surgery, you might have had a team of medical students poking around your nethers and you don't even know it.
According to a Globe & Mail article today, it's standard practice at Canadian teaching hospitals to allow medical students to practice pelvic exams on women who have undergone surgery, while they are still unconscious, without their consent.
That's right. While you were knocked out, having those fibroids removed, someone who was not your doctor was poking around down there and nobody told you.
From the article: "Medical students routinely practice doing internal pelvic examinations while surgery patients are unconscious, and without getting specific consent, at least in Canada.
Guidelines in the United States and Britain say specific consent is required but, by contrast, Canadian guidelines state that pelvic examination by trainees is “implicit.”"
Implicit? What part of me undergoing surgery 'implies' that I'm okay with having a little unscheduled nether-probage? Is it the fact that I'm unconscious? Doesn't that sound a little bit like the defense of a rapist with a roofie stash?
Is that an exaggeration? I don't know. My parts are my parts. They're not open for business to anyone just because a) it's educational, and b) I'm unconscious. On those terms, the aforementioned rapist just needs to insist that he was giving himself an anatomy lesson.
The irony is, most women surveyed said that they would consent to the exams - if they were asked. According to the article, "sixty-two per cent of respondents said they would consent to medical students doing pelvic exams, and an additional 5 per cent said “yes” but only if a female student was doing the exam."
But they're not asked, and that's wrong. Really wrong. What do we do about this?