Docs May Conceal Surgery Risks
Not long ago, ThirdAge posted a slideshow called "Hospital Survival Guide" with warnings such as "Know Your Surgeon's Complication Rate" and "Sign an Informed Consent Form." After reading a study this morning about Australian doctors concealing surgery risks, we were reminded again of the importance of being a pro-active patient.
The research, published in PLoS Medicine, cites undisclosed risks that led to legal claims or complaints including chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, visual or hearing loss, and the need for re-operation. Futurity.org quoteslead author Marie Bismark from the University of Melbourne School of Population Health as saying, “Increasingly, doctors are expected to advise and empower patients to make rational choices by sharing information that may affect treatment decisions, including risks of adverse outcomes. However, doctors, especially surgeons, are often unsure which clinical risks they should disclose and discuss with patients before treatment and this is reflected in this study.”
Futurity.org reports that the authors found that the most common justifications doctors gave for not telling patients about particular risks before treatment were that they considered such risks too rare to warrant discussion, or that the specific risk was covered by a more general risk that was discussed.
Most of the other 436 claims and complaints studied involved factual disagreements between doctors and patients -- arguments over who said what, and when.
“The best way to avoid this type of ‘he said/she said’ dispute is by keeping a clear record of the consent discussion that takes place before any surgical procedure, ” Bismark told Futurity.org.