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Committee Opinion Number 490, May 2011

(Reaffirmed 2013, Replaces No. 320, November 2005)

Abstract: Actively involving patients in the planning of health services is recommended as a means of improving the quality of care. This can increase patient engagement and reduce risk resulting in improved outcomes, satisfaction, and treatment adherence.


Committee Opinion Number 664, June 2016

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 321, November 2005)

ABSTRACT: One of the most challenging scenarios in obstetric care occurs when a pregnant patient refuses recommended medical treatment that aims to support her well-being, her fetus’s well-being, or both. In such circumstances, the obstetrician–gynecologist’s ethical obligation to safeguard the pregnant woman’s autonomy may conflict with the ethical desire to optimize the health of the fetus. Forced compliance—the alternative to respecting a patient’s refusal of treatment—raises profoundly important issues about patient rights, respect for autonomy, violations of bodily integrity, power diffe...


Committee Opinion Number 363, April 2007

(Reaffirmed 2015)

ABSTRACT: Recommendations to patients about testing should be based on current medical knowledge, a concern for the patient's best interests, and mutual consultation. In addition to establishing a diagnosis, testing provides opportunities to educate, inform, and advise. The ethical principles of respect for autonomy (patient choice) and beneficence (concern for the patient's best interests) should guide the testing, counseling, and reporting process. Clear and ample communication fosters trust, facilitates access to services, and improves the quality of medical care.


Committee Opinion Number 724, November 2017

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 409, June 2008;
Committee Opinion Number 488, May 2011;
and Committee Opinion Number 527, June 2012)

ABSTRACT: With the increased emphasis on patient-driven health care and readily available access to patients through the internet and media, many genetic testing companies have begun to market directly to consumers. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing raises unique concerns and considerations, including limited knowledge among patients and health care providers of available genetic tests, difficulty in interpretation of genetic test results, lack of oversight of companies that offer genetic testing, and issues of privacy and confidentiality. When undergoing any direct-to-consumer genetic testi...


Committee Opinion Number 691, March 2017

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 318, October 2005;
Committee Opinion Number 432, May 2009;
Committee Opinion Number 442, October 2009;
Committee Opinion Number 469, October 2010;
Committee Opinion Number 486, April 2011)

ABSTRACT: Carrier screening is a term used to describe genetic testing that is performed on an individual who does not have any overt phenotype for a genetic disorder but may have one variant allele within a gene(s) associated with a diagnosis. Information about carrier screening should be provided to every pregnant woman. Carrier screening and counseling ideally should be performed before pregnancy because this enables couples to learn about their reproductive risk and consider the most complete range of reproductive options. A patient may decline any or all screening. When an individual is ...


Committee Opinion Number 456, March 2010

(Reaffirmed 2017)

ABSTRACT: In this Committee Opinion, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses the College's ongoing efforts to promote a just health care system, explores justifications that inform just health care, and identifies professional responsibilities to guide the College and its members in advancing the cause of health care reform.


Committee Opinion Number 661, April 2016

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases is an essential component of women’s primary and preventive health care. Despite the importance of vaccination and clear guidance from public health agencies, rates of vaccination lag behind national goals. Obstetrician–gynecologists can play a major role in reducing morbidity and mortality from a range of vaccine-preventable diseases, including pertussis, influenza, human papillomavirus, and hepatitis. Given demonstrated vaccine efficacy and safety, and the large potential for prevention of many infectious diseases that affect adult...


Committee Opinion Number 625, March 2015

(Reaffirmed 2017)

ABSTRACT: Women with dense breasts have a modestly increased risk of breast cancer and experience reduced sensitivity of mammography to detect breast cancer. However, evidence is lacking to advocate for additional testing until there are clinically validated data that indicate improved screening outcomes. Currently, screening mammography remains the most useful tool for breast cancer detection and consistently has demonstrated a reduction in breast cancer mortality. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend routine use of alternative or adjunctive tests to scr...


9.
August 2009

Committee Opinion Number 439, August 2009

(Reaffirmed 2015)

ABSTRACT: Obtaining informed consent for medical treatment, for participation in medical research, and for participation in teaching exercises involving students and residents is an ethical requirement that is partially reflected in legal doctrines and requirements. As an ethical doctrine, informed consent is a process of communication whereby a patient is enabled to make an informed and voluntary decision about accepting or declining medical care. In this Committee Opinion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Ethics describes the history, ethical basis, and ...


10.
December 2007

Committee Opinion Number 389, December 2007

(Reaffirmed 2015)

ABSTRACT: Because human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection often is detected through prenatal and sexually transmitted disease testing, an obstetrician–gynecologist may be the first health professional to provide care for a woman infected with HIV. Universal testing with patient notification and right of refusal ("opt-out" testing) is recommended by most national organizations and federal agencies. Although opt-out and "opt-in" testing (but not mandatory testing) are both ethically acceptable, the former approach may identify more women who are eligible for therapy and may have public hea...


Committee Opinion Number 683, January 2017

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 508, October 2011)

ABSTRACT: A key element of an organizational safety culture is maintaining an environment of professionalism that encourages communication and promotes high-quality care. Behavior that undermines a culture of safety, including disruptive or intimidating behavior, has a negative effect on the quality and safety of patient care. Intimidating behavior and disruptive behavior are unprofessional and should not be tolerated. Confronting disruptive individuals is difficult. Co-workers often are reluctant to report disruptive behavior because of fear of retaliation and the stigma associated with “bl...


Committee Opinion Number 410, June 2008

(Reaffirmed 2014)

ABSTRACT: Genetic testing is poised to play an increasing role in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology. To assure patients of the highest quality of care, physicians should become familiar with the currently available array of genetic tests and the tests' limitations. Clinicians should be able to identify patients within their practices who are candidates for genetic testing. Candidates will include patients who are pregnant or considering pregnancy and are at risk for giving birth to affected children as well as gynecology patients who, for example, may have or be predisposed to certain...


Committee Opinion Number 390, December 2007

Reaffirmed 2016

ABSTRACT: Physicians vary widely in their familiarity with ethical theories and methods and their sensitivity toward ethical issues. It is important for physicians to improve their skills in addressing ethical questions. Obstetrician–gynecologists who are familiar with the concepts of medical ethics will be better able to approach complex ethical situations in a clear and structured way. By considering the ethical frameworks involving principles, virtues, care and feminist perspectives, concern for community, and case precedents, they can enhance their ability to make ethically justifiable cl...


Committee Opinion Number 466, September 2010

(Reaffirmed 2016)

ABSTRACT: International humanitarian medical efforts provide essential services to patients who would not otherwise have access to specific health care services. The Committees on Ethics and Global Women's Health of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourage College Fellows and other health care professionals to participate in international humanitarian medical efforts for this reason. However, such programs present Fellows with a unique set of practical and ethical challenges. It is important for health care providers to consider these challenges before participating i...


Committee Opinion Number 646, November 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion No. 307, December 2004
and Committee Opinion No. 377, September 2007)

ABSTRACT: Inclusion of women in research studies is necessary for valid inferences about health and disease in women. The generalization of results from trials conducted in men may yield erroneous conclusions that fail to account for the biologic differences between men and women. Although significant changes in research design and practice have led to an increase in the proportion of women included in research trials, knowledge gaps remain because of a continued lack of inclusion of women, especially those who are pregnant, in premarketing research trials. This document provides a historical...


16.
January 2015

Committee Opinion Number 617, January 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 403, April 2008)

ABSTRACT: Obstetrician–gynecologists care for women throughout their lifespans and are in an ideal position to have ongoing discussions with healthy patients about their values and wishes regarding future care and to encourage them to complete an advance directive for health care. In addition, situations may arise in which obstetrician–gynecologists need to participate in end-of-life care. When end-of-life decisions need to be made while a woman is pregnant, the level of ethical complexity often is increased. The purpose of this Committee Opinion is to discuss ethical issues related to end-of...


Committee Opinion Number 676, October 2016

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 585, February 2014)

ABSTRACT: Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions. Multiple factors affect a patient’s understanding of health information, including cultural factors, a physician’s health knowledge and communication skills, the demands of the situation, the environment in which the health information is being conveyed, and time constraints. The responsibility for recognizing and addressing the problem of limited health literacy lies with all enti...


Committee Opinion Number 480, March 2011

Reaffirmed 2017

ABSTRACT: Empathy is the process through which one attempts to project oneself into another's life and imagine a situation from his or her point of view. Most individuals do have an innate capacity to show empathy toward others. Empathy is as important to being a good physician as technical competence. However, at times the health care environment and educational process overly emphasize technological competence, curing disease rather than healing the patient, or the economic aspects of medicine. This may interfere with an empathic approach in the clinical setting. In this Committee Opinion, ...


Committee Opinion Number 578, November 2013

(Reaffirmed 2016. Replaces No. 395, January 2008)

ABSTRACT: Acknowledgment of the importance of patient autonomy and increased patient access to information, such as information on the Internet, has prompted more patient-generated requests for surgical interventions not traditionally recommended. Depending on the context, acceding to a request for a surgical option that is not traditionally recommended can be ethical. Decisions about acceding to patient requests for nontraditional surgical interventions should be based on strong support for patients’ informed preferences and values; understood in the context of an interpretive conversation; ...


Committee Opinion Number 681, December 2016

(Replaces Committee Opinion No. 520, March 2012)

ABSTRACT: Adverse outcomes, preventable or otherwise, are a reality of medical care. Most importantly, adverse events affect patients, but they also affect health care practitioners. Disclosing information about adverse events has benefits for the patient and the physician and, ideally, strengthens the patient–physician relationship and promotes trust. Studies show that after an adverse outcome, patients expect and want timely and full disclosure of the event, an acknowledgment of responsibility, an understanding of what happened, expressions of sympathy, and a discussion of what is being don...


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