Sorry to get all Katie Couric on you, but I’m going to have a colonoscopy on Friday. I turned 40 last October and I have some family history that leads my doctor to get one done now rather than at 50.
Unlike Katie, I won’t be broadcasting mine live, but I’ll share some articles and reflections on the process and, being process focused, what could go wrong. It’s a very necessary procedure, but there are, sadly, some very unnecessary and preventable risks.
According to Dr. Wikipedia (backed by journals):
This procedure has a low (0.35%) risk of serious complications
That’s about 1 in 300 patients, put another way.
For those of you who speak Six Sigma, that’s a 99.65% first time yield and a 4.2 sigma level.
That’s not going to scare me away.
Maybe I should have asked what my physician’s complication rates are. What are the complication rates at the surgical center where this will be done? Is this safer than being at a full-blown hospital or doesn’t it matter? Should I be more of an “engaged patient?”
Should I have asked more questions of my primary care provider? Why did she refer me to this GI specialist? Is he a “Best” doctor? Does that matter?
If I treat them as a supplier (respectfully), should I be able to walk the process and see what they do to prevent, say, instrument or scope disinfection errors?
Should I have asked:
- Show me how you disinfect the equipment
- Show me your training records for the people doing this work
- Show me your equipment maintenance records
- How do you verify that the work is being done properly?
- Have you had any complaints or incidents in the past?
I had my pre-procedure phone call on Monday. Maybe I should follow up and ask a few of these questions, even if I can’t go “walk the gemba” to check things out myself. What would you do?
Of course, I didn’t have data or information available to me to know:
- Which specialist is best at this?
- Who has the highest or lowest complication rates?
- What are the prices for different doctors or locations?
I don’t know how a busy person makes an informed decision.