General Question

Aster's avatar

Do doctors-in-training need to violate sedated patients to learn about medicine?

Asked by Aster (19954points) January 30th, 2011

It appears that in Australia and the UK unconscious patients on the operating table are being examined and probed by medical students without their consent. Has this always been done and do you think it’s necessary and acceptable in order to learn their “trade?”

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

17 Answers

sinscriven's avatar

Taking the devil’s advocate side of this…

Med students need to have experience with live patients to learn their trade.
Patients don’t usually feel comfortable letting a med student work on them.

So how the heck are they supposed to learn anything? Does anyone want a doc who only has theoretical experience and no practical experience whatsoever?

“I’m totally qualified to fly this plane, I flew it in Microsoft Flight Simulator for 700 hours!”

Seaofclouds's avatar

I find this very disturbing and don’t believe it’s normal practice for med schools. When I was in nursing school, we had no problem getting people that were willing to have students care for them. Some people said no, but there were only a few that actually said no. The majority of the patients we asked were fine with it.

Aster's avatar

I know. I wondered for the first time how they learn all that about the human body. I guess I assumed they only examined cadavers.

Aster's avatar

@Seaofclouds so most agreed to be examined when unconscious? So at least they gave their consent. Of course, this article was not about being cared for by students. I’d have no problem with that either.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Aster We had to ask the patients for their consent before doing anything at all. The only time I saw people that were under anesthesia was during surgery and they had to give consent for the nursing students to even observe the surgeries (we didn’t do anything other than observe in those situations). All of our patients were conscious and able to give consent.

In my opinion, the medical students shouldn’t be doing anything to a patient without the patients permission (not even observing them). The article is talking about medical students and in my opinion, them examining them is the same as them caring for them, and both require the patients consent.

Aster's avatar

Maybe I could deal with it if I thought ONE student would examine me while sedated. But I think the article says that, in Australia, many students would take their turn exploring the patient without his or her consent beforehand. I almost picture a line-up of interns wearing gloves and waiting their turn. That’s the way I took it , anyway.

rooeytoo's avatar

Jeez, they always say yanks are sue crazy but in this case I would certainly be calling my lawyer. To just examine without prior permission is inexcusable. Wonder if it has anything to do with the free health care? Like you’re not paying for it so we will do it our way???

faye's avatar

It’s just so obviously wrong to not get consent! 30+ years ago an old unconscious man’s heart stopped beating and was restarted 5–6 times by med students on my unit. I was brand new and horrified. The doctor saw my face and said the patient didn’t know it was happening but I still wonder and would hate if it was my mom or dad. But then if my mom was saved down the road because these students knew how, I’d be glad.

BarnacleBill's avatar

First of all, Fox News’ source for this,, is the Fox Australia affiliate. That’s like citing yourself as a source and saying it’s true. This is right-wing sensationalism, intended to push the knee-jerk button.

rooeytoo's avatar

@BarnacleBill – it was also reported in The Australian (see here) which is one of Australia’s most prestigious newspapers. And I believe has no connection to Fox.

FutureMemory's avatar

Totally wrong to examine someone without their consent.

For some reason I am not surprised by this story in the least.

gorillapaws's avatar

In the USA, you will be charged with assault if you try to do this. I suspect that some heads are going to roll after this has come to light.

genkan's avatar

I’m studying medicine in Australia, and one is legally obliged to ask for consent prior to any examination, even for something as simple as asking a patient for a conversation about their illness. That’s only the ideal, however.

You must understand that in operating theatres, after the patient is anaethetised, doctors and nurses have to handle patients as if they are ragdolls. Legs get spread for catheterisation, pubic hair is shaved, breasts unintentionally exposed. It’s easy to forget that patients are actually real people with rights when they’re lying there, responseless to any stimuli.

Aster's avatar

I got the feeling that the students lined up are not doing it so much for examination as they are to learn about the human body. It’s inner workings and where “everything is located.”
For instance, students are told , “today we want all of you to know where the prostate is located and what one feels like. So here we have Mr ___. He is totally asleep so don’t be nervous. As opposed to Mr___ in room 322, this gentleman’s prostate is enlarged and you need to learn the difference.
So , if this is what’s being done, it has nothing to do with “caring for” the patients. The patients are vehicles for teaching the students medicine.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Aster Even with that, they need to have the patients consent for the students to do anything to their body at any point in time. And if the patient wasn’t there for any kind of rectal exam at all, even the doctor would need consent to do a rectal exam if it wasn’t part of the procedure the patient had already consented to before being put under with anesthesia.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Aster yeaaa thats great they’re learning and all. Still doesnt mean I want a bunch of random people poking around in my ass while im passed out on a surgery table with no knowledge such a thing is occurring.

Aster's avatar

I didn’t mean in any way to be defending this! It is very violating!!

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther