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February 3, 2023

Willford’s Patient Consent for Intimate Exams Bill Passes Committee

DENVER, CO –  The House Health and Insurance Committee passed legislation today that requires licensed healthcare facilities to obtain a patient-signed consent form before health care professionals, medical residents, trainees and students perform intimate examinations. 

“Requiring a consent form for intimate exams needs to be standard practice for the safety and well-being of every patient,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn. “Right now, patients are receiving pelvic exams they did not consent to while under sedation for a completely unrelated procedure; we need to put an end to this. Patients can be traumatized, betrayed and can suffer emotionally as they cope with unauthorized intimate exams, and my bill outlines rules for patient consent to protect Coloradans’ when they’re at their most vulnerable.” 

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. 

This bill would also 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).

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.

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