We appreciate the opportunity to reply to Drs Martyn and O’Connor1 to correct a misinterpretation of the data and to comment on their recommendation that consent be obtained by the house surgeon for one student to undertake a vaginal examination under anaesthesia.
Of the 17 women who did not consent to VE, only two were examined—the other 15 were not examined. The report to the hospital authorities of these two adverse events resulted in staff being reminded to always check for the consent by the student in the woman’s notes.
After an inquiry into the gynaecological practices at a major hospital,2 each student in New Zealand was required to obtain written consent for a vaginal examination under anaesthesia. Additional teaching of students was introduced to assist this new practice. However, because of reports that the doctor rather than the student sometimes obtained the consent, a question about this was included in our survey. We agree that consent to a doctor has a favourable acceptance rate, but in New Zealand, the practice is not standard. The issue of doctor consent, which may occur because overseas trained doctors supervising the students are not aware of the New Zealand practice, was also addressed with the hospital authorities.