Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Informed Consent

Informed Consent

Is it consent, if they aren’t informed?  A friend of mine who is a paramedic explained this to a colleague when treating a patient at his home while on a call.

Kyle has been a paramedic for many years and also works in an emergency room as an Emergency Room Technician.  His skill for treating people in an emergency go way beyond their physical needs.  He is gentle and kind and also willing to take the time to explain the options to a patient.

I like to ask him about his calls and they are usually uneventful but interesting non-the-less.  But on this evening, following his shift, he explained to me about a patient’s pain and discomfort and request to not be brought the hospital.  Kyle explained to this man what they can do for him at the hospital to relieve his pain.  Or, he can stay home and what can happen to him if he refuses care.  What made this conversation interesting to me, someone who is sensitive to health literacy or anyone’s capability to communicate with each other especially under stress, is that Kyle’s colleague questioned the man’s capability, as an adult to make an informed decision and give consent.   “When someone doesn’t understand or know their options” Kyle explained to his colleague, “Then they are not informed”.

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