Violence against trainees: urgent ethical challenges for medical educators and academic leaders in perinatal medicine

Rodrigo Ayala-Yáñez 1 , Regina Ruíz-López 1 , Laurence B. McCullough 2 ,  and Frank A. Chervenak 2
  • 1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ABC Medical Center, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, USA
Rodrigo Ayala-YáñezORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2548-3208, Regina Ruíz-López, Laurence B. McCullough
  • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY, USA
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and Frank A. Chervenak
  • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY, USA
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

Objectives

Violence against medical trainees confronts medical educators and academic leaders in perinatal medicine with urgent ethical challenges. Despite their evident importance, these ethical challenges have not received sufficient attention. The purpose of this paper is to provide an ethical framework to respond to these ethical challenges.

Methods

We used an existing critical appraisal tool to conduct a scholarly review, to identify publications on the ethical challenges of violence against trainees. We conducted web searches to identify reports of violence against trainees in Mexico. Drawing on professional ethics in perinatal medicine, we describe an ethical framework that is unique in the literature on violence against trainees in its appeal to the professional virtue of self-sacrifice and its justified limits.

Results

Our search identified no previous publications that address the ethical challenges of violence against trainees. We identified reports of violence and their limitations. The ethical framework is based on the professional virtue of self-sacrifice in professional ethics in perinatal medicine. This virtue creates the ethical obligation of trainees to accept reasonable risks of life and health but not unreasonable risks. Society has the ethical obligation to protect trainees from these unreasonable risks. Medical educators should protect personal safety. Academic leaders should develop and implement policies to provide such protection. Institutions of government should provide effective law enforcement and fair trials of those accused of violence against trainees. International societies should promulgate ethics statements that can be applied to violence against trainees. By protecting trainees, medical educators and academic leaders in perinatology will also protect pregnant, fetal, and neonatal patients.

Conclusions

This paper is the first to provide an ethical framework, based on the professional virtue of self-sacrifice and its justified limits, to guide medical educators and academic leaders in perinatal medicine who confront ethical challenges of violence against their trainees.

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