A team of researchers found that iPads make good tutors for patients who are about to undergo surgical procedures.
Some patients undergo surgeries or other medical procedures without real informed consent. Doctors should properly explain the purpose, procedure and expected outcomes of surgeries to their patients. Due to certain factors, like technical language and time pressure, many patients find it difficult to understand what doctors tell them.
"Informed consent for patients undergoing procedures is both an ethical and legal responsibility and crucially important for optimizing treatment. Patients should be intimately involved in deciding upon their treatment, and understanding their treatment is often vital to a good recovery," said Dr. Matthew Winter, lead author of the study.
The team consisting of Australian doctors prepared their patients for surgery by using iPads. They found that using the mobile device made patients understand the procedure better than direct conversations with doctors.
"Patients often find it difficult to understand the medical language used by doctors during face-to-face standard verbal communication, and they often feel intimidated by the interaction," said Dr. Winter.
Some doctors work with busy schedules that limits the time they have to conduct quality consultations with their patients. As a result, patients find it hard to understand the procedure they will be going through.
Upon checking the effects of using iPads on 88 patients scheduled for surgery to remove kidney stones, the team found that 80.7 percent of patients chose the video tutorial in iPads, while only 19.3 percent preferred face-to-face consultations. The understanding of patients increased by 15.5 percent compared with direct consultation.
The researchers, however, do not imply that iPads should replace consent. They just wanted to show that there are other alternatives to interviews that can help improve the understanding of patients on the procedures they are about to face. This can help reduce anxiety levels experienced by patients before surgery and allow patients to be informed of important things before they have a face-to-face consultation with their doctors.
Many studies have shown that using iPads and other mobile devices has both beneficial and detrimental effects on health. Though this study shows that iPads can help patients in terms of understanding surgical procedures more easily, iPads have been blamed for sleeping problems, nickel allergies and toddler developmental problems.
Photo: Sean MacEntee | Flickr