People in the medical profession are taught that patients must always give INFORMED consent. All too often, that is not done.
What exactly is informed consent? It is the patient giving their consent for a procedure, surgery, medication, whatever after they have and understand the pros and cons and have all their questions answered.
One prime example of this in the maternal child field is the AFP (alpha-fetal protein) test that is done between week 16-18 of pregnancy. It is a blood test that detects a protein in moms’s blood that can indicate a higher probability of the baby having a neural tube defect or Down’s Syndrome.
Unfortunately, there can be false positives with this test. Lets talk about what happens if the test comes back positive:
1. Mom gets a call from the doctors office
2. Mom is told the AFP is positive and baby may have a birth anomaly.
3. Mom is told that to find out for sure, she needs an amniocentesis.
4. From that moment on, mom will worry for the rest of the pregnancy and after. It will stay in her mind that her baby is not ok.
5. There are risks to an amniocentesis, though small.
6. Mom then has to wait for the result.
7. If the test shows the baby may have an anomaly, parents then have to decide if they want to continue the pregnancy.
8. As I said, even if the test comes back normal, the joy of the pregnancy is taken away, at least a bit.
Mamy people say that the test should be done so the parents can be prepared. As the parent of a mentally and physically disabled child – you can NEVER be prepared.
There are many moms who ask questions or do research and decide against this test. These parents have made the decision to have their baby – no matter what.
My point – informed consent is very important and the responsibility of the medical profession. And patients need to ask questions and get answers they understand.