How much info is just enough?

John Taylor: December 14, 20070 Comments

My spouse and I now each have three little incision marks on one of our knees. But our arthroscopic "information threshold" was dissimilar.

My anesthesiologist in Clovis said little more than hello; her sleep-inducer  patiently reviewed each element of her chart, revealing things she hadn't heard from any of her other doctors. He also mentioned she would be intubated briefly. That unexpected news jarred her a bit, but me even more -- had I been intubated? No clue.

Fasting before surgery is still expected. But when surgery time is a moving target, even when you do the paperwork and other tests a day before, a side effect (along with anxiety) can be dehydration. She got a warm blanket in hopes of making her veins stand out; I didn't, and got additional pokes (and bruises that lasted weeks).

We each have four photos of our respective knees. And, over time, I expect we'll get better educated on what exactly they show -- either in followup doctor visits or from the Web. We appreciated the overall quality of care, the smiles, the courtesies. And while I sat for hours in waiting areas, I made mental notes of what other families publicly shared with strangers seated near them -- fatigue tends to loosen tongues.

It's hard to find any world more heavily regulated than health care,  But with so much to do, so many forms to complete, so many repetitive questions to ask to ensure optimal safety, it's a true challenge to meet everyone's "information threshold" expectation.