Informed consent: more than just a patient’s signature

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

The cardiologist was called to the ER, and told me that he could tell by my T-waves and other diagnostic test results that I had “significant heart disease.” From that moment on, I could see his lips moving. I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth. I think I also may have signed something before I was urgently moved upstairs to have what turned out to be a blocked left anterior descending coronary artery unblocked. I was so stunned and overwhelmed, however, that I simply could not comprehend anything that was happening around me once I realized I was in fact having a heart attack. He may have been speaking Swahili. . .

Yet I’m now pretty sure that the fact I signed a piece of paper somehow meant that I had participated in the informed consent process required of hospital patients who are about to receive treatment.

Does informed consent actually mean that it’s informed at all?  Continue reading “Informed consent: more than just a patient’s signature”

Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

A beautifully-dressed older woman with beautifully-coiffed hair raises one beautifully-manicured hand during the Q&A portion of my Heart-Smart Women presentation. She stands and asks aloud:

“Carolyn, my doctor told me I have a heart rhythm problem. What does that mean?”

What she wants is for me to explain to her what her doctor has not. But what I want to do is to grab her by her beautifully-clad shoulders and shake her, very hard. How is it possible, I wonder, that such an articulate, well-trotted-out woman doesn’t know what her own diagnosis means, and, worse, hasn’t gone back to her doctor to find out? How can she be capable of making decisions about her expensive wardrobe, hairstyle and nails, yet somehow still be incapable of staying on top of the most important thing she owns: her heart health?

Sadly, she is not alone.  A 2008 study of women over 40 done by The Federation of Medical Women of Canada called the LIPSTICK Survey reported that women spend more time thinking about their weight than they do about their hearts. And only 10% of women surveyed knew their personal heart disease risk factors versus the 64% of women who know how much they weighed in high school! Continue reading “Six rules for navigating your next doctor’s appointment”