Lawsuit: Students 'Browbeat' To Volunteer For Vaginal Ultrasounds At Valencia College
Two Valencia College students have filed a lawsuit alleging students were browbeat into having pelvic ultrasounds performed on them. Valencia College hasn’t been served the lawsuit, but defended the use of student volunteers.
Students learning vaginal ultrasounds at Valencia College can practice the procedure on one another, if they sign consent forms. Two unnamed Valencia College students, though, said the program’s instructors threatened to blacklist them from getting jobs at local hospitals for not volunteering for the exams.
The lawsuit says the practice is a violation of free speech and unreasonable search and seizure clauses in the U.S. constitution, and is seeking an unspecified level of damages. You can download the suit here.
Valencia College spokeswoman Carol Traynor said the college hasn't officially been served with the lawsuit, but said the use of volunteers is nationally accepted.
"The use of volunteers — including fellow students — for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice," Traynor wrote in an email to WMFE. "Valencia’s sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment.”
The lawyer representing the unnamed plaintiffs wasn't available for an interview today. The lawsuit was filed last Thursday, and Valencia College has three weeks to respond. The story generated enough social media buzz to make Valencia College trend earlier today.
Kathleen Megivern, the executive director of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs, which has accredits Valencia's program, said they have received no complaints from students or faculty members.
The group's standards and guidelines say programs must ensure voluntary and prudent use of students or other human subjects for non-clinical scanning, but that students’ grades and evaluations must not be affected by participation or non-participation.
Megivern said they have no data on how common the practice is among sonography programs, and said Valencia is up for a site visit as part of its five-year accreditation, which ends in 2016.
"Obviously, if the allegations are true, this program would be in violation of the standards," Megivern wrote. "Since they (Valencia) are already in the review process, we will do what we can to expedite it and the timeline probably won't end up being very different from what it would be if it had been triggered by a review."