It’s important that patients understand the likely outcomes, problems that can occur along the way, and the risks of a treatment or procedure, explained Robert G. Fante, MD, FACS, president of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and facial plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon, Fante Eye & Face Centre in Denver, Colorado.
It’s important that patients understand the likely outcomes, problems that can occur along the way, and risks of a treatment or procedure, explained Robert G. Fante, MD, FACS, president of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and facial plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon, Fante Eye & Face Centre in Denver, Colorado.
As patients are presented with advancements in technology and new therapies, how can their expectations be managed to an appropriate level?
You know, patients come in with lots of questions, typically. They may or may not completely understand the disease process that they have. They may also be interested in things like cosmetic surgery, which we also do. And they need to understand, of course, what it is that we can offer them in terms of the likely outcomes, the problems that could potentially occur along the way, whether or not the treatment that we have for them is likely to give them exactly what they want or only part of what they want—and, of course, the risks as well.
And all of these things need to be carefully reviewed with patients ahead of time and during the process as well. So, you know, we think about it, there's a process called informed consent that I'm sure you're aware of, and informed consent is sort of a formal name for the discussion that needs to happen both during a procedure, or the process of a procedure—say, you know, when patients come in for their 1-week visit or their 2-week visit after an operation or after they've been treated for a while with a particular drug—and especially at the beginning, before they even start. And, you know, we all understand that people are best informed as to how things will go, but not only is that important for managing the disease itself, but managing their expectations and their likelihood of satisfaction, and the ability of them to also talk with their family and friends. For example, if they have a surgery and then they have bruising afterwards, or they have a drug and it gives them temporary diarrhea, it's good for them to know that this is something that will be temporary, or that the bruising will go away, or that if we look past that, that the outcome we were after in the beginning is still available to them.
And then afterwards, you know, there are of course people who fail everything that we do, no matter what we do, whether we're talking about a medication for a particular disease or a surgery for a particular problem. Not everything works for every patient. And so, it's important for them to understand what the alternatives will be, if they are a person for whom it doesn't work, and how we can continue to try to reach the original goal that we had.