Tag Archives: informed consent

Informed consent: more than just a patient’s signature

13 Aug

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 was having a heart attack. From that moment on, I could see his lips moving. I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth. I think I may have signed something before I was urgently moved upstairs to have what turned out to be a 95% blocked coronary artery unblocked. I was so stunned and overwhelmed, however, that I simply could not comprehend anything that was happening around me once I heard him say the words “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 most hospital patients.

Does informed consent actually mean that it’s informed at all?  Continue reading

Don’t worry your pretty little head over your health care decisions

4 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

My late mother, like many women of her generation, never even imagined telling her doctor that she wanted a second medical opinion, even if she suspected that her doctor’s treatment or advice was lacking. This means that my mother would rather die than get a second opinion. To ask for one would have been rude and insulting to her physician, and that could simply never ever happen.  Whatever her doctor said went unquestioned. He was the boss of her health care.

Many women today continue my mother’s preference for abdicating responsibility for one’s own healthcare. A study of women over 40 done by The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (called the LIPSTICK Survey) reported that only 10% of women surveyed knew their personal cardiac risk factors, versus 64% of women who know how much they weighed in high school Continue reading

Don’t take this personally, Doc…

22 May

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

modern-art-1127794_1280 copy Do you remember me telling you the story of my earliest signs of patient empowerment? That story was about the day I decided, at the feisty age of five, to fight back against our family doctor during his house call to our little bungalow on Pleasant Avenue.  My totally out-of-character childhood revolt was launched when I overheard Dr. Zaritsky tell my mother that he’d have to give me a needle to fix what was ailing me – and that he’d have to pull down my pajama bottoms to aim the needle just so into my bare bum. But I was having none of it, as I described here:

“I wept. I screamed. I struggled. I tried to run away from him. I think I may have even punched Dr. Zaritsky right in the stomach – until I finally ended up exhausted, sobbing and humiliated, face-down on the chesterfield, essentially calf-roped into submission by two exasperated adults.

“In hindsight, I’m indeed amazed that I actually somehow found it within my (very sick) little 5-year old spunky self to try to fight off a great big doctor who, in our home, was a man second only to Pope Pius XII in terms of authority and reverence.

To speak or act so disrespectfully to the wonderful Dr. Zaritsky – or to any physician – would have been inexcusably bad behaviour in my family. But meanwhile, in a foreign country far, far away from Pleasant Avenue (i.e. in the United States of America), the stirrings of an even bigger patient revolution were simmering.  Continue reading

Say what? Do patients really hear what doctors tell them?

23 Sep

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When I had a heart attack in 2008, I was taken immediately from the E.R. to the O.R. for emergency treatment for a left anterior descending coronary artery that turned out to be 95% blocked.  But, overwhelmed and terrified, I knew nothing of what was about to happen to me, even though I have a vague memory of the cardiologist explaining something to me before I was taken upstairs. I could see his lips moving and I could hear sounds coming out of his mouth, but he could have been speaking Swahili.  I don’t think I was capable of comprehension at the time. Everything I know about surviving what’s known as the “widowmaker” heart attack, I learned much, much later.

I’m not alone. A new study suggests that heart patients believe that their cardiac interventions have far greater benefits than they actually do. Continue reading