Surgeons in American operate under the principle of informed consent. Many times this is treated as a formality by both doctor and patient, but it’s absolutely crucial to our health care system, and taking it for granted can have some nasty results for both parties.
Before having an operation, you will be asked to indicate that you understand the nature of the surgical procedure to be performed. You also have to give your permission for the operation.
According to The American College of Surgeons, this is your cue to get curious. Of course, not everyone wants to hear every specific detail of the surgical procedure itself, but here’s what you ought to know and be satisfied with, before the knives and funny-gas come out.
- What are the indications that have led your doctor to the opinion that an operation is necessary?
- What, if any, alternative treatments are available for your condition?
- What will be the likely result if you don’t have the operation?
- What are the basic procedures involved in the operation?
- What are the risks?
- How is the operation expected to improve your health or quality of life?
- Is hospitalization necessary and, if so, how long can you expect to be hospitalized?
- What can you expect during your recovery period?
- When can you expect to resume normal activities?
- Are there likely to be residual effects from the operation?
If you’ve got a procedure coming up or know someone who does, I’ve made a cheat sheet ready to go if you want to print one.
Informed Consent Cheat Sheet (.pdf, opens in new window)