Informed Consent: When Surgery Is Recommended
When surgery is recommended, most health care facilities now require patients to sign a form stating their willingness to permit diagnosis and medical treatment. This is to certify that you understand what procedures will be done and have consented to have them performed.
Consent to surgical or other treatment is only meaningful if given by a patient who has had an opportunity to learn about recommended alternatives and to evaluate them. Before consenting to any course of treatment, be sure your doctor lets you know:
- The recommended procedure;
- Its purpose;
- Risks and side effects associated with it;
- Likely consequences with and without treatment;
- Other available alternatives; and
- Advantages and disadvantages of one treatment over another.
Even if you want your doctor to assume full responsibility for all decision making, you are likely to discover that your concerns about treatment decrease as your understanding of breast cancer and its treatment increases.