Besides the unresolved issues on my mind from when my dad
was sick that relate to the oncologist on Dad's case, another
thing that concerns me is the way that informed consent was
handled when Dad was in the hospital.
In cases when the patient is deemed unable to participate in this process, another person can be appointed to serve as proxy through a medical power of attorney or other legal process.
When it became clear that my dad was not consistently oriented (i.e. he was confused about certain things) upon hospital admission, informed consent fell to my mom on his behalf. According to the definition of informed consent, this meant that she was to be educated about Dad's condition and of the options for treatment and the advantages and disadvantages of each. This is basic Medical Ethics 101, a process of which any physician - and certainly any surgeon - should be extremely aware.
This is where my question comes in: Why was that process not followed?
At admission, a neurosurgeon was assigned to my dad's case, and right away he started saying that a specific type of surgery called "debulking" needed to occur just as soon as Dad was stabilized seizure-wise. We were never given any choice of neurosurgeon, and no alternatives to this procedure were ever presented to us.
Back then, though, we didn't even know what questions to ask, or even that we should be asking questions. We didn't think about getting a second opinion or doing a background check of any kind on the neurosurgeon, at least partially because we were told that time was of the essence. I think we assumed that particular neurosurgeon was the best at that hospital or at least that he was the neurosurgeon with the first opening in his surgical schedule. It seems crazy to me now when I think that I never asked how many of that type of surgery that neurosurgeon had done or how many patients with that same diagnosis were treated in that hospital per year. [I later asked a nurse on the oncology floor how often they saw GBM patients there, and she said once or twice a year.] I remember all too well that we were in such a state of shock and panic and so frantic to try to take care of and to protect Dad that we didn't have time to research things. We just trusted the advice we were given and forged ahead.
*When a doctor (or other medical staff member) makes a recommendation, ask what else they considered or could have considered and WHY they came to the conclusion that they should recommend that specific thing.
*When making a decision as to whom (or to where) to turn for care, directly ask WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT FROM OTHER DOCTORS (or what sets this facility or service apart?)?
*ALWAYS ask what that person's (or that facility's) experience with that diagnosis, that surgical procedure, etc. is SPECIFICALLY, termed in frequencies and outcomes.