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Robin Wilson, College of Law, University of Illinois

Ashok Handa, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford

Michael Dunn, Ethox Centre, University of Oxford

Phoebe Friesen, Ethox Centre, University of Oxford


This panel will consider challenging ethical questions surrounding how to navigate informed consent within medical education. Robin Fretwell Wilson and Phoebe Friesen will speak about their work regarding the practice of non-consensual pelvic exams on women under anesthetic by medical students, which is forbidden by the GMC, but still takes place at many teaching hospital in the United States. Prof. Wilson, who has been instrumental in developing recent legislation requiring consent for educational pelvic exams, will speak about her experiences with public engagement and offer rebuttals to some of the common defenses of the practice that are given. Dr. Friesen will unpack the importance of consent for this practice, examining how autonomy, bodily rights, and trust, are each under threat when consent is not given for educational pelvic exams on women under anesthetic, and whether these threats extend to other forms of medical student involvement in care. Ashok Handa and Michael Dunn have both been involved in recent revisions to the guidelines surrounding consent in medical education at the University of Oxford and will offer reflections on their involvement in this process as well as the broader legal framework in England. Dr. Handa, who is currently the Director of Surgical Education, will consider the unique issues and challenges that arise in relation to medical students and consent within surgery, and the guidelines that shape students’ learning experiences and consent requirements by the bedside. Dr. Dunn, Director of Undergraduate Medical Ethics and Law in the Clinical School, will explore two specific elements of English medical law, and critically reflect on the application of these legal provisions in the educational setting. The focus here will be on a new standard for information provision concerning risk in the law of consent and established legal principles for substitute decision-making for patients lacking mental capacity. Each participant will speak for 10-15 minutes, followed by a lengthy question period.

Forthcoming events

WEH/Ethox Seminar: Translational ethics: working with clinicians to improve ethical decision-making

Wednesday, 08 July 2020, 2.30pm to 4pm

This seminar will be held by Bluejeans videoconferencing, please email for the meeting link.

Richard Doll Seminar -COVID-19: where to next?

Tuesday, 14 July 2020, 1pm to 2pm

WEH/Ethox Seminar: Consent and confidentiality in family medicine: reflections on the “ABC” case

Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 2.30pm to 4pm

This seminar will be held by Bluejeans videoconferencing, please email to register. A link to the meeting will then be sent to you on the day of the seminar.