RAINN Welcomes HHS Action on Non-Consensual Pelvic Exams in America’s Teaching Hospitals



RAINN Welcomes HHS Action on Non-Consensual Pelvic Exams in America’s Teaching Hospitals



Washington, D.C.— On the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, applauds new guidance released today from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires teaching hospitals to obtain written informed consent from patients before they undergo sensitive examinations, like a pelvic, breast, rectal, or prostate exam.

“This letter from HHS is a critical leap forward in protecting patients and medical residents,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “Non-consensual sensitive exams are a shocking problem with a very simple solution: hospitals need to ask patients for consent, clearly and explicitly. This will also protect residents from having to violate the oath they take to do no harm.”

RAINN’s policy team has been working with HHS to bring this issue to light and has been working state-by-state to pass legislation to require hospitals to inform patients and gain their explicit consent before undergoing a sensitive exam, like a pelvic, breast, rectal, or prostate exam, for teaching purposes.

“Without consent, sensitive exams are a glaring violation of an anesthetized patient’s autonomy, whose body is being used for teaching purposes, without consent, in a vulnerable hospital setting,” said Stefan Turkheimer, vice president for public policy at RAINN. “Requiring those in the medical profession to respect and obtain consent in all circumstances is a commitment to trauma-informed care and reinforces the importance of treating patients in a vulnerable setting with respect and dignity.”



RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, help organizations improve their sexual assault prevention and response programs, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free, confidential help is available 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visiting hotline.rainn.org.

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