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ETHICS IN MEDICINE   University of Washington School of Medicine

Public Health Ethics:
Case 1

MG is a 27-year-old graduate student, recently married, who comes into the student health clinic for a routine pelvic exam and PAP smear. During the course of the exam, the gynecology resident performing the exam obtains the PAP smear, but also obtains cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia. The examination concludes uneventfully.

Several weeks later, she receives a postcard indicating that the PAP smear was normal, with no evidence of dysplasia, but that the cervical culture for gonorrhea was positive. The card instructs her to come into the clinic to discuss treatment, and that "public health authorities" have been notified for contact tracing. The young woman is terrified that her husband will be contacted.

Does the woman have a right to be informed that the gonorrhea and chlamydia cultures were being obtained?
What should be done if she refuses?

Discussion

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