Monday, December 19, 2011

Friends don't let friends consent for a stent uninformed

The DSP blog was saddened when it read this study which asked a simple question:  do patients about to undergo a stent for stable angina correctly understand the expected benefits.  The key finding of this study:  88% of the patients that were getting a stent thought that the stent would "reduce their risk for MI" (myocardial infarction).  Why is this a problem?  Why is the DSP blog exhibiting grinch-like behavior by blogging about this so close to Christmas?  It is a problem because of what this study told doctors about the benefits of stents for stable angina:  the COURAGE trial demonstrated that stents do not reduce the chance of MI compared to medical therapy.

In the DSP's humble opinion, this discrepancy between what is known about the benefits of stents for elective angina, and what patients who are going to get a stent think the benefits are--this is the proverbial canary in the coal mine warning.  If the current system does not facilitate patients arriving at a correct understanding about how a stent for elective angina will and won't do for them, this really signifies a major problem in doctor patient communication.

The DSP blog's recommendation:  Besides reading the DSP blog, if you are pursuing any elective procedure, you better know enough to ask, and ask enough to know.  Asking the right doctors the right questions (see related post on this blog) is a good place to start.

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