Lab tech students forced to perform vaginal probes on each other will get their day in court


These are ultrasound technician students, the ones who do the actual exams. Physicians don’t do the exams, and wouldn’t know what end of the power cord to insert into an orifice. (They would know which orifice, however. I hope.) All they do is read the report.

In general the best way to learn is to do things, after you’ve learned the theory of how to do it. Students in medical fields often do tests on each other. But in this case, it should definitely be optional. Say someone had fibroids? That probe could really hurt. And I wonder: did they actually turn the ultrasound on? Seems to me that violates the ALARA (as low as reasonabley achieveable) principle; in other words, don’t subject the body to invasive energy input unless there’s a definite need to. But I don’t know how ultrasound training implements that, if at all. Maybe they’re irradiating their own hearts and brains for practice, instead of being mentored at bedside on patients who need the tests.

It’s telling that the school claimed it was “voluntary” when clearly it was not. Four Pinocchios.


I’m not a med student, but I’m pretty sure that they get practical experience when they are allowed to follow a doctor around as part of their education. And when they begin their residency. And on corpses donated to science for that specific reason.


It’s just a hole, who cares? Amirite, ladies! /s


If we’re going to let men be ultrasound techs at all, they need to practice vaginal ultrasounds on someone.

I’m wondering if it might not work better to actually hire people as training subjects. I think that already happens in some areas of medical training. On the other hand, I can see the argument that (to the extent possible) medtechs need to experience firsthand the discomfort and embarrassment of the procedures they’re performing, so they can be sensitive to their patients’ needs. Obviously this school fucked up in several ways, but the principle seems sound if executed better.


It’s a medical procedure/test. I definitely see the benefit the techs having it performed upon themselves. It should be performed in the same manner as it would/should be performed on a patient. It should be just as “icky”. If this something they can’t do shouldn’t they figure that out before they get a career in it?

Now performing this on your classmate or someone you know socially would be different than a relative stranger assuming these people don’t have continual professional relationships with patients (I honestly don’t know). I’d think there would be a way to mitigate all that.


I think that’s the problem here, really. It’s the job of the school to work this out and teach that attitude to the students, not leave them thrashing around trying to figure it out themselves. Instead:

For example, when Milward and Ugalde expressed their issues with the ultrasounds, then program chair Barbara Ball “told them they could find another school if they did not wish to be probed,” the court stated.

Additionally, the Orlando Sentinel reported, “A footnote in the lawsuit states that Ball told one of the plaintiffs, during a probe, that she was ‘sexy’ and should have been an ‘escort girl.’”

Definitely not a way to mitigate either student’s discomfort.


Not sure why the guys would be exempt - they need to learn how to do ultrasound rectal/prostate exams too.


So I showed the article to my wife, and she found it irregular, at least. When she was learning similar procedures, they had professional patients, who were usually secretaries at the hospital, and made very good money submitting to the indignity of those procedures. Also, they soon became pretty casual about the whole thing. She did tell me that it is important to know what the patient is going through, but this particular circumstance sounds “off”.


I don’t know what med tech training is normally like, but the ordeal described had all the hallmarks of hazing, in this case by the school’s faculty, which makes it all the more heinous as they’re supposed to be the authority students can go to when they’re getting hazed.

Lawsuits or not, the school’s board should be hiring outside investigators to scrutinize the bad actors here, not simply sweeping their misdeeds under the carpet. In all likelihood they’ll find systemic abuse, not simply one instance. Abusers like Ball follow patterns.


I have no experience with medical schooling, but having pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, I will say if you haven’t electrocuted yourself at least once you are doing it wrong.


Yes. That’s exactly the same thing as having a vaginal probe shoved up your vagina and feeling like if you say no, your career is on the line.


Well, I should hope that would be a part of a different lesson…


The 11th Circuit does not agree with you. In its opinion, the defining criterion of a search is its intrusion of privacy, not the purpose for which it’s conducted. E.g., if the Feds toss your apartment just to show you who’s boss, it’s still an unlawful search, even if they don’t actually bother looking for incriminating evidence.


If the school forced this on students without obtaining informed consent…


Did I say it was the same? I was just pointing out I was curious about my chosen field. Perhaps medical minded students would be self exploratory? I agree it was extremely wrong how the school dealt with all of it, but at the same time it would be helpful for them to understand the procedures they are administering.


I’m pretty darn sure the female students who are suing understand perfectly well that having object inserted in their vaginas against their will or under coercion is rape.


This isn’t a case of self-exploration, which is the problem. Yes, it’s great to experiment with one’s chosen field, but medicine isn’t the same thing as electrical engineering.


I am aware of that. But if you consent to a probe, or feds in your apartment, then you didn’t expect privacy. That’s the tricky thing about duress - at what point can it be said that one “let” a bad actor do what they were intent on doing anyway? When consent is given under duress, it seems to me more productive to demonstrate the duress.


Geez - grow up kids or choose a different profession.


Again, this isn’t about the students, it’s about the people administering the course work demanding that this happen.