a his & hers weblog of worlds apart
I read an interesting article by Dr. Roni Zeiger about the importance of asking your doctor to outline all of the risks and benefits of any treatment or procedure prior to consenting to it.
In his own words
Your job as an informed consumer of healthcare is to make sure that the
benefits outweigh the risks. The stakes are too high for you to assume
that your doctor knows this…Demand the facts and make informed decisions. Your life depends on it.
I posted a comment on the article directly, but thought I would elaborate a little bit here. I think this argument particularly interesting in the context of a genetic counselling session. Part of my job is to outline the benefits (such as providing valuable information for family members) and the risks (such as the potential for future insurance discrimination) of pursuing a genetic test. After reviewing the risks and benefits, we will ask the patient if he/she would like to proceed. I have always personally felt this to be a strength of my profession. Based on Dr. Zeiger’s argument above, we are ahead of the game.
However, I occasionally get the sense that people are confused by this process because it goes against the general flow of most other medical appointments. Also, there are some people who would prefer not to hear any of the risks, benefits and limitations of the test. Instead, they are only interested in hearing what we think they should do.
I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to be a patient. But if you align yourself with the patient empowerment camp, you’ll find like-minded healthcare providers in your genetics clinic. If you’d rather not hear the details, it could be a frustrating experience for you.