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March 13, 2023

House Passes Patient Consent Protections for Intimate Exams

DENVER, CO - The House today unanimously passed legislation to require licensed healthcare facilities to obtain a patient-signed consent form before health care professionals, medical residents, trainees and students perform intimate examinations. It passed by a vote of 60-0.

“Some patients have woken up from sedation to learn that a non-consensual pelvic, prostate, rectal, or breast exam was performed on them to train medical students,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn. “We’re putting Colorado patients in the driver's seat, giving them control over what intimate exams can be conducted on them.” 

“Learning of a non consensual intimate exam can force patients to relive some of the worst moments of their life,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County. “This bill requires a patient's consent before medical professionals perform intimate exams, protecting patients when they undergo a medical procedure.”

HB23-1077 passed committee unanimously and would require health care professionals, students, medical residents and trainees to obtain informed consent from sedated or unconscious patients before performing intimate examinations, unless in emergency situations. In addition to consent, health care professionals would only be able to perform intimate examinations if it is pertinent to the planned procedure. 

Across the country, medical students and residents are performing unauthorized intimate exams, including pelvic exams for educational purposes, on patients under medical sedation for unrelated surgeries. Patients are not able to consent to these procedures and can experience extreme physical and behavioral responses from the trauma of learning about this exam after it has happened.

This bill would create a process for obtaining patient consent and non-compliant medical and health care professionals would be subject to disciplinary action by their regulators or the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

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