When you are in extreme pain or are suffering from excruciating discomfort due to a medical condition, the information you receive from your doctors and other medical staff is pertinent to your health and, sometimes, to your survival. Before undergoing any treatment when there are risks involved, you will be asked to sign consent forms. It is extremely important that you understand what you are signing before you sign the consent forms. Here's what you need to know.
You need to fully understand the benefits and risks
When signing informed consent forms, in doing so you are agreeing that you have been informed of the benefits and the risks that are involved and agree to undergo treatment. Additionally, being fully informed means that you are also informed of the benefits and risks of not undergoing the treatment. When your doctor is explaining all of these things to you, it is important that you fully understand.
Don't let language be a barrier to your understanding
If you do not understand due to a language barrier, ask the doctor if there is someone available on staff who can interpret the information in your preferred language so you can understand it. If language is not the barrier and you simply need the doctor to use simpler terms so you can better understand the benefits and risks of both undergoing treatment and not undergoing treatment, tell your doctor. If he or she needs to, they can ask the hospital's social worker to provide you with an explanation in terms that may be easier to understand.
You should be mentally alert and free of duress
Sometimes, when you are experiencing extreme pain it can cause you to be unable to focus. Extreme pain can also cause you to make decisions you otherwise would not make when you are able to think clearly. On the other hand, being medicated or sedated could also cause you to not be mentally alert enough in order to make sound decisions regarding your medical care. In cases of emergencies, there's often a fine line between when it's appropriate for doctors to ask for informed consent and when it is not.
If you are in extreme pain or you do not feel mentally alert enough to understand the benefits and risks in order to give signed consent for treatment, ask a loved one or family member to assist you. If necessary, your loved one may be permitted to give what is called a proxy consent on your behalf, with your consent to do so.
For more information on what a consent form is and how it affects you, contact hospital professionals at your local medical center, such as Peninsula Community Health Services- Medical (Cottonwood).