Creating a Safe Place

I really appreciate the issues that Sarah brought up in her blog post. I completely agree with problems that she rises about consent. I am currently working in the healthcare field as a dental assistant, and I see this problem all of the time.Patients come to the clinic with pain and swelling in their mouth, often describing it as the worst pain in their life, even worse than childbirth. After I take an X-ray and triage the patient, the doctor enters the treatment room to discuss treatment options with the patient. Being in the room while this is occurring, I have noted on various occasions that many doctors give little importance to the issue of consent. As a result, my coworkers and I have voiced our observations to superiors. Many of the doctors are internationally trained and are here to complete their residency. Here are some of the alarming things that we have noticed: (1) Many doctors fail to introduce themselves to patients. They might charge into the room and blatantly ask the patient “what’s your problem?”, and abruptly leave upon receiving the answer. There’s no exchange of names, and absolutely no effort to build a rapport. (2) Doctors often do not fully explain the problem to the patients (what is causing them to feel pain). (3) Some fail to describe treatment options in layman’s terms. (4) Most importantly, many doctors fail to deliver informed consent to the patient. When the patient is asked to sign the consent form, some doctors neglect to talk through the different components of the form with the patient. This reminds me of a passage from Washington’s Medical Apartheid. “The medical jargon in which such research papers are couched is often impenetrable even to well-educated nonmedical people” (Washington 14). If “research papers” is replaced with consent forms, this statement is essentially the same. This is a big issue, especially as patients are left feeling confused and uncomfortable with their providers.

My coworkers and I are currently waiting to hear back from our superiors in regards to this issue. I feel that although doctors are busy and have a plethora of patients that they need to see in a short amount of time, basic things like fully explaining risks to patients and comforting them is common sense and part of the job.

As Sarah says in her blog post, patients have a right to know exactly what is being done to them and have the right to be thoroughly explained their treatment options. Currently working in the healthcare field, I feel that it is important to make yourself available and accessible to patients. I have noticed that patients appreciate this and are able to build a solid relationship of trust. This is the epitome of healthcare. Patients trust that you know and will do what is best for them, even though it is easy to violate or take advantage of their trust.

I believe that this relates to the idea of interdependence, which we have discussed in class. Today you might be helping someone and tomorrow you might need the help. It is important for us to remember the Adinkra symbol that Dr. Muench showed us in class, which essentially means ‘you help me and I will help you’. Dr. Muench talked about how simply wearing t-shirts with this Ghanaian symbol helped provide Ghanaians security to give consent to the research being conducted there. To reiterate, people, not just patients or research subjects, need to feel comfortable and know that they are in a safe place. This is a universal problem today, and hopefully as a society we can work together to combat this issue.

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