Issues of Consent

Consent has always been a large topic of debate. Some people have never fully grasped what consent actually means in the medical field. Just recently there was a news report about a doctor in Virginia who struggled with consent.

Consent means that you are giving permission for something to happen to you or an agreement to do something. Informed consent is also important because people need to know exactly what is happening to them, why something needs to change, and how it will change. Informed consent is the most important thing a person can give because then they know exactly what is happening to them.

Javaid Perwaiz, a 69 year old doctor in Chesapeake, Virginia, was performing surgeries on woman that they did not want, without their knowledge or consent. He was performing hysterectomies and tying their fallopian tubes without these women’s consent. “In one case, Perwaiz, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Chesapeake, told a woman she needed a hysterectomy after discovering the “imminent onset” of cancer, the documents said. The patient objected and asked instead for a less invasive operation, in which only her ovaries were removed, the court papers said When the woman awoke from surgery, “she was shocked to discover Perwaiz performed a total abdominal hysterectomy.” The doctor cut the patient’s bladder in the process, causing sepsis and requiring a six-day hospital stay, investigators claimed.” Perwaiz was performing harmful surgeries on these women without having their explicit consent.

Consent is an issue here because these women are undergoing invasive procedures that can affect the rest of their lives, without even knowing. They wanted procedures that were not as invasive, that is what they agreed to. But, their doctor decided he wanted to do a different procedure, and then not even put it on their medical records. “When the woman later obtained her medical records, the surgery was described as “elective” and cancer was not mentioned, they said.” The doctor that these women trusted to take care of them lied to them and did things without their consent.

These women had to deal with an unfortunate event that has been going on in the medical field for hundreds of years. Consent in the medical field has been an ongoing issue for many minority groups. As Washington states in her book, Medical Apartheid “Physicians’ memoirs, medical journals, and planters’ records all reveal that enslaved black Americans bore the worst abuses of these crudely empirical practices which countenanced a hazardous degree of ad hoc experimentation in medications, dosages, and even spontaneous surgical experiments in the daily practice among slaves.” Since slavery people have been undergoing harmful procedures without their consent. They did not know what was happening to them.

Many of us do not think twice about going to the doctors. We trust our doctors to take care of us and have our best interests in mind. These women thought they would be safe and taken cared for within the limits they set. Consent needs to be enforced in the medical field and not taken advantage of, as this doctor did.

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