Public Health Ethics:
The routine of obtaining cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia is motivated by the desire to have accurate information on the prevalence of gonorrhea in the population, and the hope that identification and treatment of asymptomatic carriers could reduce or eradicate gonorrhea as a public health problem.
Yet, in this case the patient was not told about the culture being obtained. When health-related information is obtained from individuals, they should have an opportunity to consent to or refuse such collection. In some instances, individuals may conscript to having their rights disregarded, such as in the military. Similarly, other individuals do not have their rights recognized as a result of due process, such as prisoners.
In this case, the physician should inform the woman what tests will be performed and why, and how that information will be handled. If she refuses to have the test obtained, her wish should be respected.
Case 1 Discussion
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