Would you trust someone who you’ve only encountered twice to walk you through a zoo while you were blind folded with noise cancelling headphones on? Imagine saying yes to a procedure that someone you recently met will complete on you while you are unable to see, hear, or even move. There are so many unknowns and so many risks. You don’t completely understand the procedure yourself.
During pre-op rounding, I met many patients having to undergo this predicament. Some patients, maybe the more seasoned ones, take for granted that surgeries typically go as planned. For some, especially those undergoing their very first surgery, it can be a daunting experience. One that’s hard to decide on. In particular, my experience rounding on a 20-year-old male patient reminded me of how I felt leading up to my first operation. Upon entering the room, you could sense an aura of anxiety and worry. You could hear the uneasiness in his voice. He was worried about his post-op range of motion, strength, scarring, loss of athletic scholarships or the ability to enjoy the sport he loved, loss of confidence in the sport, mentally avoidant to use the limb, and physical challenges of PT, and intraoperative complications. It’s frightening to completely trust someone else with your body and your future. He feared undergoing an open reduction and fixation of the radius. A straightforward procedure that the surgeon has done time and time again. To the surgeon, this situation is not a big deal but to the patient this can be life changing.
This illustrates how significant a thorough written and verbal consent is. It can make or break the experience for the patient. As a future physician, I want to reduce the number of unknowns and stress for the patients. I want to answer and exhaust all their questions, give real expectations of the procedure, and allow the patient to be involved with their available options and understanding of each. I aim to gain the trust of the patient and allow them to confidently have faith in me during their vulnerable state.