I've just read a story (read it here) about medical students here and in the UK, performing intrusive examinations on anaesthetised patients without their consent. Comments on the story ranged from "outrageous" and "Rape" to "how else will our Doctors learn?"
It got me thinking. As you know I've recently undergone extensive treatment for Breast Cancer. That treatment included surgery. Does it bother me to think that there may have been a number of students lining up to palpate my breasts whilst I was unconscious? Not really... if nothing else, they may have learned that not all lumps are detectable by physical examination. Mine wasn't! Even with scans providing a roadmap for him, my surgeon was unable to feel the cancerous lump in my breast!
But what if I found out those same students performed an "internal examination" which had no bearing on my current condition? You know what? I still don't think I have a problem with it. I mean, I line up voluntarily every year for these procedures, more frequently if there's any kind of issue. What if one of these "unnecessary" examinations uncovered a problem? Am I going to sue the hospital for allowing the medical student to perform this "sexual assault" (thus potentially saving my life)? Not a hope. So why would I have a problem with the student ascertaining that there's NO problem. Short answer... I DON'T!
I've had experience with medical students in potentially embarrassing situations. While in labour with The Brat, the OB doc and I were at odds over whether or not I needed a Caesarian. (For the record, I was right, I didn't, The Brat was born naturally, if painfully). Anyone who's given birth knows that there's no dignity in childbirth anyway, and I've read the opinion that a labouring woman is in no way fit to consent to anything (you might be surprised!), but honestly, I REALLY didn't have any issue, and still don't, that The Brat's arrival was witnessed by a somewhat larger audience than originally planned. If nothing else, I hope those students left the room appreciating that it's always a bad idea to ignore a patient when he/she suggests that they have half a clue about their own body.
I think for me, and you may have a different view, it's the assumption that performing these procedures does NOT provide any form of sexual gratification for the Doctor, or the student Doctor. with no motivation to acheive sexual gratification, can this be considered sexual assault? Sure, I know we read about Docs being disciplined for inappropriate conduct towards their patients, but seriously, these are in the minority. I just can't imagine that there are too many people out there who are so twisted that they are prepared to spend thousands of dollars, and years of their lives, looking for an "easy" way to indulge their sick fantasies.
An element of trust is necessary when we ask virtual strangers to take such intimate care of us. I just can't be bothered believing that everyone out there wants nothing more than to do me harm. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one.