Patients as Teaching Tools: Merely Informed or True Consent [Book Review]

Journal of Academic Ethics 7 (4):255-260 (2009)
Using patients as teaching tools raise many ethical issues like informed consent, privacy, confidentiality and beneficence. The current study highlights issues on respecting patient’s choice and acquiring informed consent with its spirit rather than as mere formality. The study was conducted in out-patient department of The Kidney Center Postgraduate Training Institute Karachi Pakistan in May 2008 to July 2008. All patients who had come for the first time to see the author were included in the study. The said study explored the willingness of patients to allow medical students to be present during history taking and physical examination by the consultant. There were 18 male and 03 female patients. Age ranging from 22 to 73 years with mean age of 53.5 ± 13.7 years. There were total of 21 patient–students encounters out of which two encounters were with male students only and two with female students only. So in 17 Patient–students encounters, students of both genders were present. All patients permitted history taking in the presence of medical students except one who had a history of extramarital sexual contact and signs and symptoms suggestive of sexually transmitted disease. Of the male patients 50% (9/18) did not allow intimate examination before medical students. Out of these nine patients who refused, four consented earlier but when enquired again about their true willingness, they expressed their preference not to have medical students in the room while undergoing digital rectal and external genital examinations. Physicians need to develop sensitivity to acquire informed consent in its true essence rather than just as a formality by exploring actual willingness of the patient. One should refrain from being judgmental on the basis of gender, looks, religion or norms
Keywords Patients  Teaching tool  Informed consent
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DOI 10.1007/s10805-010-9099-7
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