ACOG Committee Opinion No. 759 Summary: Ethical Considerations for Performing Gynecologic Surgery in Low-Resource Settings Abroad

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Global surgical care programs present obstetrician–gynecologists with important opportunities to address disparities in women’s health and health care worldwide. However, these programs also present a unique set of practical and ethical challenges. Obstetrician–gynecologists are encouraged to participate in surgical care efforts abroad while taking the necessary steps to ensure that their patients can make informed decisions and receive benefit from and are not harmed by their surgical care. In this document, the Committee on Ethics highlights some of the ethical issues that may arise when providing surgical care in low-resource settings to help guide obstetrician–gynecologists in providing the best care possible. This document has been updated to broaden its focus beyond the example of obstetric fistulae, to address issues pertinent to medical trainees, and to include new information to guide physicians’ return home from participation in global surgical care programs. Although clinical research has an important role in the surgical care of patients in global settings, a complete discussion of the conduct of ethical research in global settings is beyond the scope of this document.

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