Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released draft federal guidelines on circumcision. The proposed guidelines are the first ever federal guidelines on circumcision, which is a medical procedure that involves cutting away the foreskin around the tip of the penis.
These proposed federal guidelines lean toward promoting circumcision, but they do not mandate the procedure because it is considered a personal decision that can involve religious or cultural beliefs or preferences.
The CDC has been working on the proposed circumcision guidelines for the past seven years, when results of research studies done in Africa showed that circumcision might help stop the spread of the AIDS virus. The guidelines were released in a draft form. The public will have 45 days to comment on the proposed guidelines before the CDC possibly amends and finalizes them next year.
Circumcision is a medical procedure that is typically performed on the first or second day after birth. Typically, a local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is given prior to the surgery. The procedure can be performed a couple of different ways, but the two most common are the Plastibell method and a clamp method.
The CDC’s proposed regulations favor circumcision because research studies connect circumcision with the following health benefits:
- easier hygiene;
- reduced risk of urinary tract infection;
- reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases or infections;
- prevention of certain penile problems (such as phimosis); and
- decreased risk of penile cancer.
However, circumcision is not without its opponents. These opponents point out that circumcision can be inappropriate in certain circumstances, including if the male has a blood-clotting disorder or if the male baby to be circumcised was born prematurely.
The procedure also can have the following risks:
- excessive bleeding;
- anesthesia side effects; and
- surgical errors, including situations where the foreskin is cut too long or too short, or where improper healing results due to an improperly performed procedure.
While the complication rate varies depending on several factors, one 5-year study found performed at the Massachusetts General Hospital found that 7.4 percent of all visits to a pediatric urologist were for circumcision complications.
Currently, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) remains neutral on circumcision. While AAP recognizes there are benefits to the procedure, it says that the benefits of circumcision are not significant enough for the organization to routinely recommend the procedure. The organization also believes that the procedure is not medically necessary, so it recommends that parents discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with their son’s doctor.
Because of the potential risks and negative side effects, circumcision (and all medical procedures) need to be performed only after a physician or health care provider has obtained informed legal consent from the patient (or the patient’s parent or legal guardian if the patient is a minor).
In order to obtain informed consent, a physician or health care provider needs to give the patient (or his parent) sufficient information about a procedure to enable the patient (or his parent) to make an informed choice on whether to have the procedure performed. This means that the patient’s doctor is required to present the medical facts as accurately as possible and tailor the detail of the information to meet the needs of the patient (or his parent). The doctor also must make treatment recommendations that follow good medical practice.
Tallahassee Medical Malpractice Help
If you or a loved one has experience a post-surgical complication that you feel may have been caused by a health care provider’s negligent care, or if you received medical treatment without your informed consent, the Tallahassee medical malpractice lawyers at Fasig & Brooks are available to listen to your situation and discuss your legal options. Call us at (850) 222-3232 or use our online contact form to get immediate help with your legal questions.