Friday, March 25, 2011

Do informed consent procedures work?

I have been going through some health problems and have been struck by the failure of the informed consent procedures.

In one facility I received an informed consent form for an imaging procedure. It included a statement that the most common side effect of the procedure affected one out of 12 patients. In the same paragraph it stated that the total frequency of all side effects was 1.5 percent. Apparently no one else had ever commented on the discrepancy before signing the form.

In a hospital not affiliated with the first facility I was given a form to sign which said that I had reviewed another form and that I had received three brochures. I had neither seen the form nor received the brochures. When I asked for the form I was supposed to fill out and the brochures the clerk disappeared for some time and returned with the brochures and the information that there was no such form.

In the preparation room I was asked to sign another form saying among other things that I had been briefed about the side effects of the procedure I was to receive and about the anesthesia I was about to receive, Neither was true, and things came to a halt until the physician who was to perform the procedure and the anesthesiologist  came in and briefed me.

The idea of informed consent is important to me, but I wonder how often the intent of the policies is undermined by bureaucratic tokenism?

No comments: