WakeMed Physicians Support a Patient’s Right to Understand His Care
“At my age, when you do these things, you get first place in your age group simply because there’s nobody else as old as you,” remarked Bob Schubauer about the half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks and triathlons he has completed throughout his life. At age 64, he completed his second triathlon – just two months before his first heart attack.
Chest pain and the urging of his wife, Barb, spurred Bob’s visit to the Nash General Hospital emergency department in Rocky Mount, NC. “The doctor told me I had a heart attack and that three of my arteries were nearly 100 percent blocked,” said Bob. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Bob was incredulous. He felt certain he was winning the battle against heart disease that so many men in his family have been fighting. His father had a heart attack at age 50 and several of his uncles have had multiple heart procedures. Bob’s physicians assured him that his healthy lifestyle is the reason heart disease became a factor in his life at a much later age than his family members.
Bob was rushed to the WakeMed Heart Center in Raleigh, where he was scheduled to undergo coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery the next day. But Bob postponed the procedure and for good reason: He wanted more information about his condition and why heart surgery was the best option. “I told Dr. (Bryon) Boulton I was 50/50 on whether I wanted to go ahead with the surgery. I wasn’t sure it was my best and only option,” explained Bob.
What happened next pleasantly surprised Bob. “I thought that postponing such a major procedure just because I wanted more information wouldn’t go over well with Dr. Boulton, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” said Bob.
“Dr. Boulton didn’t even bat an eye. He sat down and spoke to my wife and me for a couple hours. After that, Dr. Sinden came in to talk to me. He used my films and walked me through my own blockages, explaining why stents, which some of my relatives had, were not going to work for me and that the surgery was the way to go.” Dr. John Sinden is a cardiologist with WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians. “We don’t make major decisions in other facets of our lives without having all the facts,” explained Dr. Sinden. “Decisions about how to treat a serious heart condition is certainly no exception. It’s your right as a patient to have the information you need about your treatment, and as physicians, it is my and Dr. Boulton’s responsibility to provide that information.”
That was a Wednesday. Bob’s CABG surgery was performed the following Friday. He was up walking the day after his procedure and continues to feel better and better each day. Again, Bob’s physicians point to his healthy lifestyle as a key factor in his successful recovery. Approximately one month after surgery, Bob received the OK to go back to work.
“I was so impressed with the time the doctors took to explain things to me and the nurses who took care of me,” said Bob. “They knew their roles and didn’t miss anything.”
Bob’s experience serves as a lesson to all: When it comes to your health, you are the primary decision maker. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Like the physicians and nurses who cared for Bob, your doctors and nurses should be more than happy to answer your questions.