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Terra pericolosa: medical student involvement in intimate patient examinations or procedures

Paul M McGurgan and Katrina L Calvert
Med J Aust 2021; 215 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51181
Published online: 2 August 2021

Medical students continue to be involved in legally and ethically concerning intimate examination practices

Terra pericolosa was the cartographical term used to denote dangerous land — regions likely to put travellers in jeopardy. Despite the degree of governance and regulation in modern health care,1,2,3 medical literature,4 student‐authored ethics reports5,6 and the media7 continue to document medical students being involved in legally and ethically concerning intimate examination practices. This article summarises the ethico‐legal aspects of medical student involvement in patient care, and reviews international best practice and the factors which influence why medical students continue to find themselves in terra pericolosa situations.

  • Paul M McGurgan1
  • Katrina L Calvert2

  • 1 University of Western Australia, Perth, WA
  • 2 King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA


Correspondence: paul.mcgurgan@uwa.edu.au

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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