Are Physicians Blameworthy for Iatrogenic Harm Resulting from Unnecessary Genital Surgeries?
AMA Journal of Ethics, August 2017
We argue that physicians should, in certain cases, be held accountable by patients and their families for harm caused by "successful" genital surgeries performed for social and aesthetic reasons. We explore the question of physicians' blameworthiness for three types of genital surgeries common in the United States. First, we consider surgeries performed on newborns and toddlers with atypical sex development, or intersex. Second, we discuss routine neonatal male circumcision. Finally, we consider cosmetic vaginal surgery. It is important for physicians not just to know when and why to perform genital surgery, but also to understand how their patients might react to wrongful performance of these procedures. Equally, physicians should know how to respond to their own blameworthiness in socially productive and morally restorative ways.
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