Bariatric Surgery

Informed Consent: What is It?

Apr 20, 2015

Victor S. Sierpina, MD

Prior to any major surgical procedure and even to more minor office surgeries, as a patient, you will be asked to sign an “Informed Consent.” This document is meant to inform you of any risks you may face undergoing the procedure. While the intent is to assure patient safety and understanding, these documents often seem threatening and muddled in legal language.

Of course, in our litigious society, this is not surprising. Bad things can happen to good people and even excellent surgeons and physicians may have the occasional unexpected outcome. The document in no way removes your ability to recover damages if a procedure was botched by incompetence, sloppy technique, or other kinds of non-professional actions.

Likewise, it does not mean that if something goes wrong during a procedure, that there is always someone to blame. As long as a physician uses due diligence, has appropriate credentials, and follows established techniques and protocols, a human accident or error doesn’t make him or her liable for malpractice.

Be sure to read this document carefully. Any ethical physician is glad to answer any questions, report on his or her surgical record with this procedure, and allay any fears. The Nicholson Clinic team has done thousands of weight loss surgeries with a strong safety record. You can get your questions answered and feel confident going forward with this team.

The Patient Safety Information handouts that accompany prescriptions are also often confusing for patients. By FDA regulations, these must contain a description of all reported and possible side effects, drug interactions, and warnings about a drug, no matter how rare, yet some patients refuse to take a needed medication because they find these information sheets too alarming.

If there is something you do not understand or are anxious about, ask your physician or pharmacist. Many listed side effects are rare and they are really there more as a heads up in case you note any unusual changes in your health while on the medication.

Be informed, stay alert, and when in doubt, ask your professional team. This approach is the safest for all involved.