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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, August 29, 2003

Consent forms

You know, here's something that they don't warn you about parenting: consent forms. No one stands in the delivery room and says, "By the way, Mom and Dad, you should be aware that, for the next eighteen years, you are going to be signing things so that people can do stuff with and to your kid."

Now, some of these forms are fun. School signups. Field trips. Softball registration.
I hereby give my consent for my child to grab the opportunity, to try, to go places, to play, to make friends, to learn about the world.

What's not to like?

But then there's the medical consent. The long list of possible side effects, and negative outcomes. And of course, in the interest of full disclosure, they're all there for you to read. The whole list, ranging from mild fever to sudden death. And even though you know the benefits far outweigh the risk, you still take a deep breath when you sign the form.

My right, and my responsiblity, defined in the blank next to my signature.
Relationship to Patient: Mother

It starts with vaccines when a child is 4 or 5 weeks old-- a tiny, helpless, irreplaceable little bundle of life. I held my breath then, and signed the paper, wishing I could guarantee that none of those things would happen, or at least I could take them on myself. And I've continued, through shots, and stitches, and emergency surgeries, for nearly 16 years-- right up to this morning. One more thing to consider, on top of trying not to think about the reasons the doctor might have ordered the test in the first place.

In the overall scheme of things, it's a very minor issue; but I hate this part of the job.


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