Friday, December 9, 2011
You're in the middle of a medical situation, childbirth, for instance, and your care provider suggests that a certain procedure or medication will be helpful-- or even necessary. Do you just nod and agree? Should you trust your doctor or nurse's recommendation?
Hopefully, you trust that your care provider has your best interests and well being in mind, but . . . except in cases of emergency, I argue that it's best to take a minute-- or 10-- and ask yourself and your care provider some important questions. You may find that said procedure will not have the outcomes you want. You may learn that for you the risks outweigh the benefits.
In my childbirth classes I review the acronym B.R.A.I.N. with my students. Acronyms are good because, as we all know, questions are easy to forget when in the midst of a medical challenge.
B: What are the benefits to me and my baby if we do this now?
R: What are the risks? Are there any side effects? How will doing this treatment or taking this action now affect the course of my pregnancy or labor?
A: Are there alternatives that we should consider? Is there something less invasive or less costly worth trying first?
I: What is your intuition telling you about this situation and the actions you should take?
N: What happens if we don't go forward with this medication or procedure? What happens if we do nothing? What are the risks, if any, there?
When in doubt I like the approach that says WAIT AN HOUR (or even a day or two, depending on circumstances) before moving forward with a decision or change in strategy. If your careprovider is very against this you probably have an emergency. Usually, though, that added time will afford perspective and will give you time to become comfortable with your decision.
So, definitely, take some time and get more information. Otherwise, how can you say you have given your informed consent?