This was the question asked to me today by a patient. At first, I paused because I have never had this request after tens of thousands of patient visits. I thought about it for a moment and then said, “Sure, no problem.”
The patient was seeing me for a complicated cataract consultation, after having already seen multiple other ophthalmologists in the area. Her reasoning was that she had a hard time understanding and remembering some of the important discussions during her consultations. After her exam, we spoke in detail about her conditions with an analysis of the risks vs. benefits for her situation, the alternatives to surgery, and setting appropriate expectations of post-op vision. We went through a list of questions that she had typed from her extensive online research. She is a very well-read patient and understands the importance of doing her homework in advance of signing up for elective surgery.
Ultimately, I recommended that she defer cataract surgery because it would only provide a partial improvement in her vision due to her other concomitant ocular conditions. In the future, should her cataract-related symptoms worsen, we can certainly consider surgery.
I found that I did her consultation exactly the same way that I did every other consultation that day — taking my time to be as clear as possible, to simplify our technical terms to make them easily understood, and to paint an accurate picture as to the benefits and the limitations of surgery.