Two women are suing a Central Florida college and three professors after allegedly being forced to undergo internal vaginal probes during peer physical examinations (PPEs), My Fox Alabama reported.
The former medical diagnostic students, who were not named, say their professors at Valencia College, in Orlando, Fla., threatened to dock their grades if they did not undergo the weekly vaginal exams by their classmates, including at least one by a male student. When the students complained, the professors also said they would be blacklisted in the medical community if they refused to participate in the exams, the lawsuit alleges.
Attorney Christopher Dillingham, who is representing the former students, said when his clients attended college orientation, the vaginal ultrasounds were described as voluntary.
“As time went on, it became clear [the exams] were anything but,” Dillingham told CNN.
Dillingham told the news website he doesn’t understand why the students had to use their sexual organs when the college has anatomically correct dummies that students could use to simulate the procedure. The lawsuit states students conducted the real-life procedures on human patients in professional medical settings.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), trans-vaginal ultrasound is a method of examining a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries and cervix. The test is used to evaluate conditions including infertility, abnormal bleeding, sources of unexplained pain, and possible infection. The NIH website states the test is usually painless but can involve mild discomfort from the pressure of the probe. Only a small part of the device is placed into the vagina.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a footnote in the women’s lawsuit states one of the professors, Barbara Ball, who is the chair of the Valencia College’s sonography program, told one of the patients during a probe that she was “sexy” and would make a good “escort girl.”
The former students are seeking unspecified damages for their psychological stress, as well as tuition reimbursement, according to MyFoxAL.com.
Although PPEs are an accepted practice in the medical field, multiple recent reports cited by the U.S. Library of Medicine suggest a need for more clarity in policy that regulates the procedure.
In a statement, Valencia College described the program as professional, voluntary, and supervised by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting.
"The use of volunteers including fellow students for medical training is a nationally accepted practice,” the college said in the statement, “and we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they're effective and appropriate for the learning environment."