Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Risk and Surgery: The Canadian Way!

I was poking through all the mail that accumulated over the year that I was away from Winnipeg last weekend. There was a box piled high with journals reminding me of all the knowledge that I had left behind when I started my MBA. Somewhere in the mess was an old CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). I looked inside the back cover and found an interesting article.

When I first read about Risk Characterization Theatres I immediately thought of all the times that I spent 10 minutes trying to explain a surgery and its risks to a patient. I have had many times when I left a room convincing myself that a patient understood the risks of surgery that I just explained. I always remember what I was told in medical school, 'Patients only remember 10% of what you tell them.'

Being in an orthopedic residency you bring a lot of bad news to patients; more bad than good I would say. No one likes to go to the operating room, or at least as a patient. I looked at the article by Mr. Strauss and thought we surgeons might be able to alay some fears that linger after our surgical explanations. Stay tuned for a potential research study on this topic!

My only concern is that most Canadians may not identify with the theatre. I think a major opportunity is being missed here. Why are there no Risk Characterization Hockey Arenas?


Clare said...

I like the risk characterization theatre! Is there a website that does this automatically?

Dr. Jesse Shantz said...

I don't think so. I'm going to try and get a study going here on using a similar diagram for elective orthopedic surgery and testing patients prior to the typical informed consent. I think they will understand risk better than control patients.