The June 7 article about what questions to ask your doctor if you’re considering surgery was woefully inadequate and lacking in information.
It is not the patient’s responsibility to gather information. Rather, a physician is mandated by the American Medical Association Code of Ethics to make sure the patient is fully informed about their condition and treatment to give consent. The five types of information needed to convey informed consent are: diagnosis; nature and purpose of the proposed surgery; alternative treatment options, including operative and non-operative, as well as those that the surgeon does not perform; risks, complications; potential outcomes; and potential results with no treatment.
The AMA Code of Ethics also states that this information must then be put in writing, signed by the patient and entered into the patient’s records. Many doctors fail to complete this essential mandate, thus breaking the trust relationship, robbing their patients of self-determination over what happens to their own bodies and leaving themselves open to malpractice lawsuits.
Don’t learn the hard way. Do your own research and demand complete information about your care and treatment. If your doctor doesn’t cooperate, walk away. Your mental and physical well-being — and maybe even your life — are at stake.
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Nina P. Reidmiller