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Informed Consent

March 22, 2010

What is informed consent? Informed consent exists when a patient is informed of all the risks and benefits of a particular procedure, exam, or test and the patient is then given the opportunity to decline said procedure, exam or test. We all need to be informed consumers and active participants in our health care.

Today I was given the shaft by my doctor who instead of answering my questions on the value/benefit of an exam she wanted to perform, which I’m still convinced don’t exist, repeated, “This is standard of care and if you decline we will need to reevaluate continuing your care.” I am an adult, I respect your opinion, but your failure to even address my question is rather concerning. Having never met this particular doctor before, the cop out response that I received does make me question her competence. At some point, a patient is going to ask what the benefits/risks are of a particular exam, procedure, or test, and unlike most five year olds the patronizing answer of, “Because I told you so,” isn’t going to go very far with many adults. I’m still at a loss as to why the doctor wouldn’t even address the risks/benefits of the exam.

I understand that doctors have limited time with patients due to overhead costs and insurance crunches. I understand that due to the legal nature of direct to the consumer pharmaceutical and procedure advertisements doctors have been barraged with questions regarding these products. But I do not understand and cannot comprehend why, when asked specifically why something needs to be done the answer is thus. The existence of paternalistic care is well documented, but as a college educated adult with reasonable expectations of a physician I fail to understand how this would be tolerated by the general populace. I’m not debating the doctor’s right to decline to continue care should they feel I am making decisions that are contrary to their opinion. Fine. I am debating doctor’s ironclad fist that what they say goes and that I should be a happy little girl going on my way to pick daisies, because that is what I was told to do.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2010 2:42 pm

    I am dealing with similar issues with my daughter! I’ve encountered many medical professionals that are offended when I question them on things. When I mentioned getting a second opinion the other day the doctor said that I could take my files and go, that he wouldn’t send them to get another opinion. Hope you find a better doctor!

    • dachshundqueen permalink*
      March 28, 2010 4:45 pm

      This is something I truly don’t understand. In order to take the best care of myself, I need to to know what the doctor is concerned about and why, so I can take the appropriate precautions. But to not only leave patients in the dark, but expect them to blindly accept on faith whatever pronouncement is issued is deleterious to both in the long term. Neither learns, and neither garners anything from the process. In an age where people are suffering from so many lifestyle diseases, I would hope that doctors would be more open minded about our questions. I’m terribly sorry that you’ve also suffered from a doctor who deemed themselves to be infallible. We’re all human!

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