Every once in a while a patient will give consent for a medical procedure or treatment. Whilst oral consent is perfectly acceptable there are times written consent is necessary.
Written consent is both good practice and necessary prior to surgical procedures and treatment/s that have substantial risks and/or side effects that could potential endanger life. Written consent must always be confirmed before a patient undergoes anaesthesia, surgery and certain drug therapies. Such consent forms are kept in your medical records. They are a legal declaration of your (the Patient) agreement for a surgical procedure or medical treatment at a pre-arranged time. Each hospital trust has their own style of form but they are all worded in the same way and they all are done for the same reasons. Signing one form does not recognise consent for any further procedures hence new forms must be signed before each procedure or treatment.
Prior to any new treatment and/or surgical procedure the doctor must inform you of any risks or consequences. These risks include any side effects or possible reactions to new medications/anaesthetics. If you are over 16 and of sound mind you can give your consent, however if you are under 18 the consent can be overturned in court. If you are under 16 then your parent or guardian will sign said consent form. Treatment and/or surgery is given because the doctor feels it will help your symptoms or alleviate the problem.
You, as the patient, do have the right to refuse treatment or even restrict treatment. This could be for religious reasons or simply because you do not wish to take certain medications or have certain surgical procedures. The doctor cannot act against your wishes except in certain circumstances, they are there to preserve life and will do so to the utmost of their ability as a medical professional. If you do have specific instructions you must make them known to the person or persons treating you as soon as is possible.
As someone who has been under general anaesthetics many a time, I can actually recall having an ear operation at the age of 16. It was the first time I had signed my own consent form. I felt so grown up! I have also had to sign consent forms, or disclaimers, for medical treatments.
Most recently I have signed one for a certain medication, it has a strong risk of exacerbating my Hidradenitis Suppurativa as well as other issues. I have also had to sign one for oral antibiotics, I actually have a massive gastro reaction to these pills and have ended up in Accident and Emergency because of them. Now with HS antibiotics are an excellent way of controlling infection and possibly even preventing further cysts or abscesses. Not being able to take them means I can only have them through my veins (IV) or topically, in an ointment form. I have had to sign a form to say that I accept the risks in relation to not being able to take such a medication. I actually have to refer every doctor who treats me to this form before they, or sometimes after, suggest antibiotics. It also poses a problem post-operatively, there is always a risk of infection for any procedure, and usually the surgeon will prescribe antibiotics for 7 days post op. In the past two procedures they have pumped me full of antibiotics the night after the operation, this seems to prevent (touch wood) any infection occurring for me.
I have also been told that, unlike many others, my body will not absorb the abscesses it is creating. It is actually common for such an event to occur hence not a lot of incision and drainage procedures being done on some HS patients. My cells do not fight the infection which results in my needing the operations so frequently. It is on one hand horrid to learn my body isn’t fighting it in the way it should and on the other a relief to know what is actually going on for once.
I have 2 abscesses at the moment, one is on the right hand side of my bikini line and the other is in my right armpit (deep). I shall be having them fixed tomorrow, Friday, afternoon. So, even before the dressings have stopped for my previous op site I am heading back under the scalpel. The previous op site still requires Aquacel ribbon. Aquacel is an absorbent ribbon which is inserted into the open wound cavity (abscess sites are usually left open). It aids healing and wound closure. On a personal note, this ribbon being inserted really stings and hurts like mad for about half an hour after but you cannot feel it after this amount of time.
I shall blog again later next week once I am well enough to get out and about for longer than a dressing appointment. I shall be putting, with the help of a friend, pictures of the armpit wound on the next blog. I draw the line at the bikini line one!
Until next time, keep well and keep smiling. Oh and enjoy Big Brother if you are a fan, I know I shall be glued this year as it distracts me from reality!