Reflection Day Two

Today we started our discussions with another true and tragic story about the importance of patient safety. During our small group discussions about Michael Skolnik’s case we arrived at a really important and interesting observation that had never occurred to me before. We realized that often times patients don’t realize how much autonomy they actually have over their medical care. Every small procedure and action that the doctor takes which directly involves the patient’s body is ultimately up to the patient to accept or decline. Doctors can unfortunately sometimes get into the mindset where they believe they have the right to impose their treatment plan or course of action on the patient and if the patient declines that treatment, then they are somehow being unreasonable. I think it is absolutely vital to stress to patients that they have a choice and they have a very important role in deciding the way they want their care to progress. Doctors and other healthcare providers imposing treatments on the patient that the patient neither understands nor has consented to is absolutely unacceptable even if the doctor believes it is in the best interest of the patient. This would exclude, however, emergency scenarios in which the patient is unable to consent and is dire need of lifesaving treatment. Although health care providers have extensive training and medical expertise, we still have to remember that the patient is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to caring for their own bodies and we have a duty to respect that.