The definition of consent from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “to give assent or approval”. Giving consent happens in most of our lives very often. Every time we go to the doctors office we sign to give consent to the doctors. Informed consent happens when a physician gets the patient’s authorization to undergo a specific medical intervention. Doctors are supposed to make sure the patient understands the medical information and they are supposed to present all the information including diagnosis and all risks that go along with it. A patient can only make a choice if they have enough information about the treatment, benefits, and side effects. You have the right to decide what happens to your body, because it’s YOUR body.
In my life involving doctors consent I remember back to when I had brain surgery. My neurologist gave me two options to fix the problems in my brain that I was having. There were two different surgeries that I could choose between. He gave my parents and I detailed information for both surgeries. He presented us with all the risks for both surgeries and gave us details on how each procedure would work. Once we decided on a surgery we signed lots of different consent forms. This helped me feel more comfortable going into the procedure because I knew exactly what was going to happen while I was under. This is exactly what a doctor is supposed to do. I could not imagine going to the doctors for a surgery and putting all my trust in a person for them to do some horrible thing to me without me knowing. Or even doing tests on me without me knowing.
The book we have been reading “Medical Apartheid” has many examples of not giving consent. In chapter 9, “Nuclear Winter”, talked about a man by the name of Elmer Allen. Allen had fallen from a train and fractured his leg. Later on he was diagnosed at a free clinic with chondrosarcoma which is cancer of the bone. The doctors then injected his leg with plutonium 238. The medical records said that he was told something about the procedure but he was not actually given enough information to consent to it. The doctors lied and said that this injection was a form of therapy and would be their last hope to save his leg, however, they ended up amputing his leg. In reality, he was part of an experiment. This experiment left him disabled, and greatly affected him for the rest of the years he was alive.
In my mind I really cannot grasp how any doctor could do this to someone. Not only one person but they experimented on 20 people in this same way. There are so many stories just like this one. This is exactly why there is a medical consent requirement. I could not imagine going into a surgery and ending up in some sort of awful experiment instead of being helped. People were tested on like some sort of guinea pigs. They were not aware of what was going on and they were not given any options. Doctors took their body and did whatever they pleased to it. Their bodies were no longer their own. This concept is absolutely horrifying to me.
Another thing I have been thinking about involving consent is not directly involved in the medical field. Listening to Ben
Chapman speak about deception studies is what really started to make me think about consent. Did they give enough information for the people to give consent for the experiment? They were not aware before they started that there was this specific form of ecoli placed in the experiment. Sure, it was no risk to the people in the study but should it have been discussed with them before they gave consent? This really pulls me in different directions trying to decide what is right and what was not. I don’t think they could get accurate information from the experiment if they knew about it before hand because people will act differently if they know. However, I completely understand why people would want to know about it. Listening to Chapman talk about changing how they inform the people at the end comforted me. It showed how much he cared. Ben Chapman is not like one of those doctors who treats the subjects like lab rats. He understands and wants to make sure each person felt comfortable after finding out everything in the experiment.
Consent is clearly an important part of our lives. It is your body and you get to decide what happens to it. I would always want to know all the facts and understand anything that could happen to my body. No one else can decide what happens to my body except me. Listening to Chapman and reading ‘Medical Apartheid’ has really made me realize how important it is to give consent. Not only to give consent but when I’m giving consent how important it is to know exactly what it is that I’m giving consent for.