Title

Recommendations for Treating Males: An Ethical Rationale for the Inclusion of Testicular Self-Examination (TSE) in a Standard of Care

Publication Date

2015

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The phrase "standard of care" is primarily a legal term representing what procedure a reasonable person (i.e., health practitioner) would administer to patients across similar circumstances. One major concern for health practitioners is delivering and advocating for treatments not defined as a standard of care. While providing such treatments may meet certain ethical imperatives, doing so may unwittingly trigger medical malpractice litigation fears from practitioners. Apprehension to deviate, even slightly, from the standard of care may (seem to) put the practitioner at significant risk for litigation, which, in turn, may limit options for treatment and preventive measures recommended by the practitioner. Specific to testicular treatment, certain guidelines exist for cancer, torsion, vasectomy, and scrotal masses, among others. As it relates to screening, practitioner examination is expected for patients presenting with testicular abnormalities. Testicular self-examination (TSE) advocacy, however, is discouraged by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which may prompt a general unwillingness among health practitioners to promote the behavior. Considering the benefits TSE has beyond cancer detection, and the historical support it has received among health practitioners, it is paramount to consider the ethical implications of its official "exclusion" from preventive health and clinical care recommendations (i.e., standard of care). Since good ethics should lead practitioner patient care guidelines, not fear of increased malpractice risks, we recommend the development of a standard of care for counseling males to perform TSE.

Original Citation

Rovito, M.J., Manjelievskaia, J., Leone, J.E., Lutz, M., Cavayero, C.T., & Perlman, D. (2015). Recommendations for Treating Males: An Ethical Rationale for the Inclusion of Testicular Self-Examination (TSE) in a Standard of Care. American Journal of Men’s Health, published online December 3, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988315620468