There is a lot to do when you are preparing to have surgery – any surgery. From having someone on hand to drive and, perhaps, care for you while you recover to making sure you have the prescribed medications on hand when you get home. One of the most important parts of preparing for surgery is getting, reading and taking the time to thoroughly understand the Informed Consent form you receive from your surgeon.
As with any surgery or other vision-correcting procedure, the informed consent form is designed to help you understand the procedure you have chosen – and this is good – particularly with elective procedures such as LASIK. You need and deserve to know as much about LASIK as possible before you make the personal decision to have the procedure. The informed consent form is an important part of the education process. It helps you not only become an informed patient; but also ensures you make your decision with confidence and understanding.
Importantly, becoming an informed patient isn’t just about reviewing the informed consent form. There are many steps along the way. Some you should do on your own and some will be done with your surgeon and/or the practice staff, which is why the selection of a surgeon is another very important step in the process; you want a professional who has your best interest in mind. While every practice is different, there are a few basics that indicate you are working with a practice that takes its obligation to educate and support you seriously:
- The discussions you have with the surgical staff should be open, honest and productive for you; any and all of your questions should be answered thoroughly and thoughtfully.
- This discussion should include a review of any potential risks of your particular case and procedure. These should also be reflected in the informed consent form, you want the risks defined and understood before you sign.
- It is likely the surgical staff will review the consent document with you, but you should be given time to review the material privately. Ideally, you will have enough time to take the form home and review it with family or friends to help you in making your decision.
- That said, the material should be clear, accurate and thorough. You should be familiar with all of the terms in the material; if not, take the time to ask for clarification. The right practice for you will expect you to have more questions and be happy to answer them.
While it is among the last steps in the lead up to surgery, the informed consent form deserves your time and attention so you have full knowledge of the benefits and risks associated with your procedure. Set yourself up for success in achieving your vision goals by giving the surgical informed consent form more than a cursory read.