On June 18, 2020, the Governor of Florida signed SB 698, Reproductive Health Bill. The Bill covers:
The bill itself seems simple enough and the specific wording and reference is showed below:
456.072 Grounds for discipline; penalties; enforcement.—
(pp) Intentionally implanting a patient or causing a patient to be implanted with a human embryo without the recipient’s consent to the use of that human embryo, or inseminating a patient or causing a patient to be inseminated with the human reproductive material, as defined in s. 784.086, of a donor without the recipient’s consent to the use of human reproductive material from that donor.
456.51 Consent for pelvic examinations.—
(1) As used in this section, the term “pelvic examination” means the series of tasks that comprise an examination of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, rectum, or external pelvic tissue or organs using any combination of modalities, which may include, but need not be limited to, the health care provider’s gloved hand or instrumentation.
(2) A health care practitioner, a medical student, or any other student receiving training as a health care practitioner may not perform a pelvic examination on a patient without the written consent of the patient or the patient’s legal representative executed specific to, and expressly identifying, the pelvic examination, unless:
(a) A court orders performance of the pelvic examination for the collection of evidence; or
(b) The pelvic examination is immediately necessary to avert a serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the patient.
All in all the end result was that as of July 1st, 2020, healthcare practitioners, medical students, or any other students receiving training as a healthcare practitioner who will be performing a pelvic examination must first obtain written consent of the patient or patient’s legal representative.
This pelvic examination written consent cannot be general in nature and has to be “executed specific to, and expressly identifying the pelvic examination.” This written consent requirement applies to all pelvic examinations regardless of location and the same covers examinations conducted with or without anesthesia.
As noted above, there are two exceptions where consent is not required:
The law did not mention the consequences of anyone performing a pelvic examination without consent. However, on October 2, 2020 the Florida Board of Medicine answered some questions posted by the Florida Medical Association regarding this bill.
Q: Does the written consent requirement for a pelvic examination apply to male patients?
Q: Is a separate written consent required each and every time a pelvic examination is performed or can the consent cover multiple examinations during the course of treatment (for example labor and delivery)?
A: The Board did not answer this question.
Q: Must each and every individual health care provider be listed by name on the consent form, or can the type of provider be identified?
A: The Board did not answer this question. In discussions, the Board stated that the statute was clear that each practitioner performing the pelvic examination must be listed on the consent. This would not include other healthcare providers who may be in the room to observe or assist.
Q: Does the consent requirement apply to visual examinations only?
Q: What are the consent requirements in an emergency situation?
A: The Board did not have the authority to answer this question.
There are still questions regarding this law, and we recommend all parties to be diligent in the execution of the same.