This shows about how well medical students, (at least in Australia and Britain where the study was done) are being taught ethics. If medical students cannot uphold even the most common sense ethical standards, imagine how bad journalism students are.
The unauthorised examinations include genital, rectal and breast exams, and raise serious questions about the ethics of up-and-coming doctors, Madison reports.
The research, soon to be published in international medical journal, Medical Education, describes – among others – a student with “no qualms” about performing an anal examination on a female patient because she didn’t think the woman’s consent was relevant.
Another case outlined in the research describes a man who was subjected to rectal examinations from a “queue” of medical students after he was anaesthetised for surgery.
“I was in theatre, the patient was under a spinal (anaesthetic) as well and there was a screen up and they just had a queue of medical students doing a rectal examination,” a student confessed.
“[H]e wasn’t consented but because … you’re in that situation, you don’t have the confidence to say ‘no’ you just do it.”
The author of the study, Professor Charlotte Rees, voiced concerns about senior medical staff ordering students to perform unauthorised procedures, leaving the students torn between the strong ethics of consent in society and the weak ethics of medical staff.
Of students who were put in this position during the research, 82 per cent obeyed orders.
“We think that it is weakness in the ethical climate of the clinical workplace that ultimately serves to legitimise and reinforce unethical practices in the context of students learning intimate examinations,” writes Prof Rees.
The study consists of 200 students across three unnamed medical schools in Britain and Australia.