Do You Know What You’re Signing?
Are You an Informed Patient at the Doctor’s Office?
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the world, behind heart disease as the number 1 and cancer as the number 2 (CNN). So, the question is do you have full faith in your doctor to make decisions for you, or would you rather make your own decisions? Doctors do not intend harm to patients, but they can make mistakes that could have been prevented if you knew the information as well as they did.
It is hard as a patient to know everything about the medical care you need. Most of the medical jargon can be confusing, and usually you let your doctor do the deciding for you, because after all they do know what’s best. Then, you sign the informed consent paper that says you understood everything said, when really you have no idea. The informed consent document doesn’t necessarily mean that everything has been explained to you, just that you agree to say so if it legally came down to it.
Here are more ways to be informed when it comes to medical decisions (NY Times):
- Ask for the information to be simplified
- Repeat back what you think the doctor said to you
- Take the information home and think about it
- Talk to someone who has gone through the same thing
- Take notes
- Search for alternative options
It is important that you fully understand your options, especially when it comes to medical care. Don’t regret your decisions, and make sure the next time you are in the doctor’s office to ask questions!