There is always a lot of focus, discussion and debate about rights. Right to work, right to live where we want, right to health care, right to sue, right to marry, birthing rights, smoking rights, privacy rights... and the list goes on and on. Most human rights issues are common sense, however some are so controversial and demand a chain of changes, that no one is willing to take them on. And worse than that, those who could benefit most from those changes, don't even know that they have choices. So no one asks for options...and no one offers them.
Let's focus on maternity care.
There's so much information out there about what's good, what's bad, what's safe and what's not. Don't you love it when complete strangers have an opinion about what is right for you and your family? With all of that information, making decisions is so overwhelming, many of us just throw up our hands and say "I'll have what she's having!" or "If it's good enough for her...it's good enough for me!" Unfortunately, what she's having, may not be good for you... or your baby.
One of the major problems in health care today is that there is no protection. Not for patients. Not for providers. Not for insurance companies. I know, many of you are saying "But, I have protection. I have insurance" I'm not talking about that kind of protection. I'm talking about the kind of protection that is already in place and already accepted, but not being used. This kind of protection doesn't cost a dime and has the potential to save BILLIONS of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. It's the kind of security that protects everyone ... doctors, midwives, nurses, hospitals, outpatient surgicenters, birth centers, patients and even malpractice insurers. In maternity care, this kind of protection even has the potential to drastically improve our nations Prematurity rate which was reported as a "D" in the March of Dimes worldwide 2009 Premature Birth report.
Ok, ok... what is it already?
The kind of protection I'm talking about is Complete Informed Consent. Not just Informed Consent... Complete Informed Consent.
What's the difference?
Informed Consent is a legal ethics code written and supported by the American Medical Association. It states:
"Informed consent is more than simply getting a patient to sign a written consent form. It is a process of communication between a patient and physician that results in the patient's authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention.
In the communications process, you, as the physician providing or performing the treatment and/or procedure (not a delegated representative), should disclose and discuss with your patient.
The patient's diagnosis, if known;
The nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure;
The risks and benefits of a proposed treatment or procedure;
Alternatives (regardless of their cost or the extent to which the treatment options are covered by health insurance);
The risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure