Committee Opinion No. 466: Ethical Considerations for Performing Gynecologic Surgery in Low-Resource Settings Abroad
Obstetrics and gynecology 2010 Sep; 116(3): 793-9
International humanitarian medical efforts provide essential services to patients who would not otherwise have access to specific health care services. The Committees on Ethics and Global Women's Health of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourage College Fellows and other health care professionals to participate in international humanitarian medical efforts for this reason. However, such programs present Fellows with a unique set of practical and ethical challenges. It is important for health care providers to consider these challenges before participating in international surgical efforts in these settings. Health care professionals should ensure that they have the necessary surgical competence and training, including sufficient mentorship, prior to functioning as the primary surgeon abroad. Before they perform surgery, health care professionals should ensure that patients have access to adequate medical resources and preoperative and postoperative care. They should be willing and prepared to postpone or cancel surgery when the standards of ethical medical care cannot be met and the members of the surgical team believe that the best interest of the patient cannot be achieved with the current available resources. Health care professionals' efforts should contribute to the long-term well-being of the patients and the communities being served through the ethical practice of medicine, responsible conduct of research, and investment in the sustainability of services. The care of the patient should be the highest priority for those participating in these medical programs.
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