What about informed consent?

More than a century ago, before health insurance was available, and before a lot of changes took place in our environment and food supply, people had to take control of their own health, since there was no national health care system back then. They couldn’t afford to run to the doctor every time their child had a sniffle, so they did things like insisting their children take a spoonful of cod liver oil daily. 

Mothers today feed their children cod liver oil because they learned on the internet that it’s rich in essential fatty acids (EFA) that bolster the immune system. They also do it because they learned it from their mothers and grandmothers.

A century ago, people practiced preventative health care by eating healthy food and staying active, but they typically didn’t think of it as having a healthy lifestyle, they just thought of it as living.

A century ago, when people went to the doctor, it was usually because someone had been in an accident or was seriously ill. Patients were unlikely to question their doctor’s advice, and if they did, the doctor was likely to respond with, “when did you become a doctor?” Meaning, “How dare you question me!”

That unquestioning attitude has carried over into this century, even though the situation today is very different. We go to the doctor much more often and for much lesser concerns than people did a century ago, and we have many more treatment options. Each of those treatments carries risks and benefits, and we have knowledge to help us weigh those risks and benefits, but few of us understand how to do that.

This is the challenge - having knowledge about treatment options, asking questions, and expecting answers, are crucial to the principle of Informed Consent, which, in turn, is crucial to the practice of medicine, whether naturopathic or allopathic. However, most patients don’t really understand what it means or that it refers to researching risks and benefits, above and beyond what your doctor tells you, and then making the choices you’ve decided are right for you, on the basis of the information you’ve found.

Informed Consent must start with education. That’s why the first section of my book provides an educational background to help you understand that our culture has lost control of the health care system, and that perhaps you, in your life, have also lost control of certain aspects of the way you manage your health!

Whenever an expert provides you with information, you need to take their bias into account. No matter how hard any health professional tries to be objective, they will always have a bias.

It’s important for you to understand their bias, and seek information to balance it. When you read this book, you need to take my bias into account, too. Having information and understanding different experts’ biases are the only ways to ensure that when, the time comes for you to consider any kind of health treatment, whether it’s a prescription for antibiotics or a recommendation for major surgery, you are able to provide informed consent!  Remember to educate, evaluate, and empower yourself!

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