Sunday, August 4, 2019

Consent: What does it mean??


The Meaning of Consent

I was recently at the hospital with a patient who was getting a complex surgery.  The patient didn't seem to understand what was going to happen during or after surgery. Just before the surgery we saw the surgeon who was going to explain the procedure. The surgeon had the consent form on a clipboard ready for signing.

I offered to read the consent with or for the patient after the doctor explained the procedure.  The doctor did the explanation, handed the patient the forms and the patient signed without reading.

The AMA says:
The process of informed consent occurs when communication between a patient and physician results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention.


To enable patients to participate meaningfully in decisions about health care, physicians have a responsibility to provide information and help patients understand their medical condition and options for treatment.

No where does it say that the patient who signs, actually understands the procedure or surgery only that they are authorizing the procedure /surgery.

So, does the consent mean that the patient understands the procedure and risks?  Maybe it means that to the clinician, To the patient it may mean only that they are giving permission.

1 comment:

David Fielding, Patient Advocate said...

How true!! Surgeons are especially loathe to provide detailed descriptions of their procedures and would much prefer that patients demonstrate their "trust" in the surgeons abilities instead! And as most surgical procedures and consequences are well beyond the ability of the average person to understand, it seems fairly obvious (if not still befuddling) that patients are merely giving permission to perform the procedure without truly understanding their medical condition and treatment options! That would require far more time than most doctors, especially surgeons, are willing to invest in their patients.