You walk into the hospital to check in for an outpatient (or inpatient) surgery. You sit down to a woman sitting behind a computer, a blue cardigan sweater with the hospital emblem just below the right of her neckline keeping her warm. After a series of questions.. name, date of birth, change of address or insurance? COVID-19 symptoms... been out of the country in the last 30 days? Her part is done. Now it's your turn.
She makes a few more clicks of her mouse and then looks to the black signature pad in front of you. She asks you to sign... to bill your insurance. Which you do. Then she asks you to sign again... this time "consent for treatment." After your second squiggle, you squirt on some hand sanitizer and wait for your name to be called.
What just happened there? Your're thinking nothing. You never thought twice about asking to read what you were signing your name to. The entire institution exists to treat us, save our lives and make a difference. Heck, these places are sanctuaries, surrounded by some of the best, smartest, people on the planet. Even more, they are each of them is putting his/her own life at risk every single day, by being exposed to COVID-19. But this page isn't about the hospital employees, it's about the electronic signature pad with no proof of what you're signing.
Why have we as a nation, never questioned what we are signing when we sign those black pads? We don't even think about it. Why? Because we're vulnerable, counting on the medical system. They're the experts, ready to saves lives.
Why would we ask, "Can you print me a copy so I can see what I'm signing?"
l'll tell you the psychology of why you don't ask it. Because in your brain, which multi-tasks and makes unconscious decisions without explicit awareness, your brain dismisses the idea because you are there and need to trust the people who will be taking care of you. You fear that if you ask to see a form, it might imply a lack of trust. You're putting your entire life into this person's hands. Doesn't our inner voice say it's then silly to ask questions or ask to read what your signing? You're trusting this person with your life...why would you even begin to question what's on a piece of paper.
When we go in for a surgery, we model compliance and full trust because WE are dependent on THEM for something. We are vulnerable and don't want to come off as rude, distrusting, or unamiable. It's the same reason some people won't ask McDonald's to leave off the ketchup. They're afraid their burger will be spit on.
Lord knows, what will a hospital do if you ask to read a contract before you sign it? They will do nothing. They will do nothing different because it's common knowledge that reading a contract before you sign one is the right, safe thing to do. Why hospitals across the nation never thought it wasn't their job to have a hard copy for the patient to read is beyond us, but the truth is, unless you called them out on it (and includes us up until now), we can't complete blame them.
It's not an easy psychological complex to get over and some people really have a difficult time with confrontation. It may be hard. But asking the questions you need, asking to read a contract before you sign, especially an informed consent prior to a surgery is your right. It should also be what patients demand for transparency, checks and balances. Read the forms.
Page still under contraction. Not yet added for grammatical errors, structure, usage, punctuatuion.
Ghost Surgeries, LLC. PO BOX 333 Milford, OH, 45150