Our One Book, One Community read this year is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. During the lectures, I heard a lot of people mention informed consent. What struck me about these conversations is that informed consent was talked about as a problem from the past.
True, there are now laws requiring patients be informed about the care and treatment they are receiving. But do a search for “informed consent” in one of our databases and you will find hundreds of articles with titles like Uninformed Consent, Low Quality and Lack of Clarity, and An Ethical Breakdown. It wasn’t all that long ago that the University of Illinois- Chicago (UIC) was suspended from doing research because of issues with informed consent.
Being informed does not equal understanding. Sometimes that might mean a complete lack of understanding, but I think more often we don’t understand enough to make an informed decision. Add the additional complication that most people don’t know what they don’t know- and it’s not hard to see why informed consent still has problems.