A Step in the Wrong Direction: Florida Lawmakers’ Interference with Informed Consent for Pelvic Examinations
David Alfandre, Cynthia Geppert, Jennifer Goedken, Toby Schonfeld
Women’s Health Issues, 11 March 2021
Over the last two decades, several states have passed laws regulating informed consent for pelvic examinations. Much of the change has been positive, reflecting bipartisan state-supported legislation enforcing stringent informed consent requirements when health professions students perform pelvic examinations while a patient is under anesthesia. These stronger laws have helped to ensure that patients are included in, and make decisions about, any additional pelvic examinations performed for a student’s educational benefit rather than for the patient’s care (Friesen, 2018; Greene, 2020).
More recently, however, the state of Florida passed a strict consent law that requires a patient’s written consent before any pelvic examination, not just for those performed while under anesthesia. This law signals an ethically concerning trend in women’s health care that would create a more burdensome and unnecessary written consent processes for a broader range of low-risk interventions. In this commentary, we describe the ethical concerns the law raises and discuss more productive ways to empower patients while maintaining strong informed consent practices…