I had some minor, minor surgery today, and came home with four pages of the usual disclaimers and instructions. Now I work in healthcare myself, and understand how our litigious society and fine legislators (remember HIPAA?) make it necessary to offer such disclaimers. But just as the disclaimers on appliances, machinery and medications have gone from the bland to ridiculous, so to have medical disclaimers gotten, well, you’ll see.
Page one is generic instructions that they give to everyone, with some blanks to fill in for your specific condition. It has a place to fill in your specific medications, and when to call your health care provider, so that one’s pretty good.
The next page is pretty short and clear-cut with emergency instructions, blanks to fill in specifics for me and a place for your responsible accompanying adult to sign to show that you received the instructions. I’ve been other places where I’ve taken someone else for surgery and then watched in surprise as they had the patient sign the discharge instructions, even though they just gave them three pages telling them that they’d be loopy and basically incompetent for the next 24 hours. Sigh. Page two also has a specific instruction that says “No physical activity for 10 days” which contradicts page one which says one may resume sex whenever he/she wants. But we won’t go there.
Page three is specific instructions about my kind of surgery, pretty clear-cut. Page four is the ubiquitous pain scale that almost everyone uses, with the faces that go from happy to sad. I’m glad they include this because I remember when I first began working in health care, that pain was not taken seriously. It only took 30+ years, but we’ve now gone from telling patients to “Man up.” to asking them to point to sad and happy faces to rate their pain. Progress.
So what’s wrong? These instructions sound pretty reasonable. Until I go back and reread page one (even though I’m not expected to understand what I’m reading, because I’m loopy, remember?) In the paragraph that warns against the usual – driving, operating machinery, signing prenups, using power tools, they’ve added a phrase “…do not use the internet.” Medical instructions have joined the 21st century. They recognize that the internet can be a dangerous place where people can update their resume, post comments for all the world to see, purchase large quantities of everything from Amazon books to assault rifles, and play online gambling. But don’t operate the internet? Really? Other people might need that instruction, but not ciououommm me. I feel fine, really, just zzzzz like my old jllll;jkjlj exiilike iiilllllll;;l; 900 jzjzzjz8