IN March this year, my 86-year-old father was advised to undergo a procedure at a well-known private hospital in Kuala Lumpur. He has had a history of gastro-intestinal complications and therefore needed a further investigation.
He agreed to a CT scan but prior to the procedure, the radiologist failed to brief him about the contraindications of the contrast dye used. Four hours after a double dose of gastrografin, he suffered severe bouts of diarrhoea which continued for two days. It has also aggravated his gastro-intestinal tract, caused renal back pain, excessive salivation and other complications related to digestion, the kidneys and lungs. As a result, he has lost more weight and is now physically delicate.
My point here is really about informed consent and the duty to advise patients about the nature of the procedure and possible risks. Had my dad been informed, he might have opted for an alternative method of investigation.
It is the attitude towards old patients that is worrying. Barriers or lack of communication may cost a person’s life. And even if he/she is old, that doesn’t mean the patient is ignorant and expected to accept or tolerate such treatment without question.
I hope this letter will serve its purpose of warning the reader to make enquiries before the administration of any medical treatment or procedure.