Friday, July 30, 2010

Reading Your Consent

Read and Sign

The woman typing on the computer was speaking fast and friendly to the patient about his care and treatment he was to do at home. She then handed him a book and said “read this and sign here”. As I sat in the corner observing this exchange, I asked if the doctor was also going to sign this consent. “Yes” she said. “This just explains what the doctor already told him”.

I sat in the quiet of the room as the patient read and the medical assistant typed her information. ”You know” I said breaking the silence, “You never even confirmed that he can read.” She never looked up, she laughed and told me that if he can sign his name, he can read enough. “Besides” she said, “you’d never find a lawyer to take the case”.

I was shocked at the thinking of this young girl working in a prestigious doctor’s office. Not only was I surprised at her thinking but also how bold she was to share her lack of concern that this patient may not be able to read. She didn’t care if he could read what he was signing but then brought up a lawyer in this patient’s relationship with this physician and medical practice.

I let it go, I knew the patient could read but it was a reminder of how far we have to go.

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