As patients we sign a few forms before clinic appointments, hospitalizations and surgical procedures. A recent MN Eyewitness News report suggests we should be more aware of what we’re signing these days.

Prompted by online review of doctors has some healthcare providers adding another form to sign.  In addition to an already overwhelming stack of paper work requiring signatures, patients must be cautious of a waiver called “mutual agreement to maintain privacy.”  This kind of agreement can be categorized as a patient “gag order” and according to Angie’s list its use is relatively new. Angie’s list offers an online collection of consumers real-life experiences designed to help members find high quality service companies and health care professionals.

A patient can expect to sign a few forms such as release of medical information or HIPAA Privacy and it’s no secret many patients don’t read the myriad of paperwork handed to them.  Along with that concern is; are patients provided a proper atmosphere or time frame to read and understand lengthy important forms?

Now adding to those issues is a type of “gag order” waiver, which apparently can be confused with a HIPPA form. This should definitely make patients take another look at what they’re putting their signature on.  As consumers we should never hesitate to ask questions or feel pressured to sign something we don’t completely understand especially when it involves our healthcare.  If necessary, ask for more time to read forms or request your healthcare provider to explain what the forms really mean to you as a patient.

In a respectful relationship between patient and provider there should always be time to discuss concerns whether it’s about paperwork, healthcare or other. A healthcare provider giving quality medical service should be confident in patient word of mouth acting as the best marketing tool available, having no desire to sign that away.  In a patient-provider team, open dialogue is critical for obtaining the level of trust exceptional healthcare demands.

Be The Change agrees with Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s list, “If a doctor is asking you to sign this, they are not trusting you, so maybe you shouldn’t trust them.”

Next time you have a few forms to sign, read them first…. Be The Change!