Ethics

Medical Student Involvement in Patient Care

Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 9.2.1

Having contact with patients is essential for training medical students, and both patients and the public benefit from the integrated care that is provided by health care teams that include medical students. However, the obligation to develop the next generation of physicians must be balanced against patients’ freedom to choose from whom they receive treatment.

All physicians share an obligation to ensure that patients are aware that medical students may participate in their care and have the opportunity to decline care from students. Attending physicians may be best suited to fulfill this obligation. Before involving medical students in a patient’s care, physicians should:

(a) Convey to the patient the benefits of having medical students participate in their care.

(b) Inform the patients about the identity and training status of individuals involved in care. Students, their supervisors, and all health care professionals should avoid confusing terms and properly identify themselves to patients.

(c) Inform the patient that trainees will participate before a procedure is undertaken when the patient will be temporarily incapacitated.

(d) Discuss student involvement in care with the patient’s surrogate when the patient lacks decision-making capacity.

(e) Confirm that the patient is willing to permit medical students to participate in care.

AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: V, VII

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