There is a lot of talk, and especially in today’s society with privacy rights on the line, about informed consent.
Let’s talk a little bit today about what informed consent is.
The National Institute of Health says this about Informed Consent:
Informed consent means:
You are informed: you have received information about your health condition and treatment options.
You understand your health condition and treatment options.
You are able to decide what health care treatment you want to receive and give your consent to actually receive it.
According to the NIH, you are supposed to be a “partner” in your own health care- you are to be the leader of your healthcare team, if you will. How many of us actually take the lead in our own healthcare? How many of us simply go along with something simply because a doctor tells us to do it?
Most healthcare workers are not idiots. (Ok, for the most part- there are always one or two that you end up scratching your head about wondering how they even get out of bed in the morning.) Most are highly educated and know more than even they realize. A good nurse (or any other healthcare worker for that matter) should never let another person make these decisions for them. That includes your employer making decisions about your health.
Since the flu vaccine is the most commonly forced injection on healthcare workers, let’s look at a few “informed consent forms” from around the country:
So there are thousands more at there via a quick Google search, so we chose these to review.
Are these forms TRULY informed consent forms? Do they fully list the risks and the potential complications that can come from this vaccine? Do they discuss the fact that while it does not cause the flu, it can lay you up in the bed with flu-like symptoms for up to a week or more? Not really. They list the basics. Some even go so far as to tell you that you may harm people if you don’t get the shot- this is dangerous to include on the flu vaccine informed consent, and is not entirely truthful.
This particular one that I am attaching with this writing is particularly frightening and comes from the State of Tennessee:
Some quotes from this consent form?
Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it. If mild or moderate problems occur, they are fever, aches, or soreness/redness/swelling where the shot was given.
And a few more:
I understand that Name of Healthcare Facility or any persons acting as their agent are not responsible for any adverse reactions that I may sustain.
I understand that by declining this vaccine, I may continue to be at risk for influenza infection and I may also put patients and my other contacts at risk for influenza.
If the flu shot form at your place of employment EVER says this, do not sign this form. Ask for one without the statement above on it. By your signing this statement, you are agreeing that you are potentially a walking plague. Do you agree with a statement like that? I surely don’t and would never sign something stating as such! In theory if someone ever got wind of your medical history or file (legally or illegally) who knows how they might use this information against you. If your facility says that they do not have another form available, then cross this statement out, write something such as do not agree, and cover yourself. You legally have the right to do so. Signing this statement as a knowledgeable healthcare provider is not in your best interest. (Note: this is not offering legal advice. This is simply sharing a way that a healthcare workers or employee may be able to cover themselves should any questions arise about their vaccination status.)
The other thing to think about is this. If you get hurt, who will protect and help you? You can’t sue the vaccine manufacturers. They made that all nice and tidy with lobbying. More than likely, your employer may say that they won’t cover you. Guillain Barre is no joke. It can permanently paralyze you. If you are the primary income earner in your home, you owe it to yourself to definitely think this over. Ask the doctor this before you have any medical procedure. A good question would be, if this medical procedure injures or harms me, who will be responsible if I am not able to function as I do right now? We should ask that about any medical procedure.
Consider this also: what does YOUR patient know about what he/she is getting themselves into? When you ask them to sign consent forms, does their face ever cloud over? Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions and they are not really understanding you? Does the patient appear hesitant about signing? One of our jobs as nurses is to EDUCATE our patients. That means if a patient has questions, hesitations, or fears, we are legally and ethically bound to our patients to educate them on what they can expect. They too, have the right to an informed decision about their healthcare and we can make sure that happens.