Healthcare News & Insights

Nine hospitals test a radical new informed consent form

Any clinician has seen a patient’s eyes glaze over — or widen in terror — when faced with a consent form that includes dozens of potential risks ranging from infection to death. A process to better inform patients often only confuses them.

A new pilot program has been developed for patients about to have non-emergency cardiac catherizations or angioplasties. The Web-based program pulls data from a national cardiovascular database to provide patients with personalized information on how likely they are to face specific risks.

The program is up and running at nine medical centers, including the Mayo Clinic, and is funded by a joint grant from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

The need for a better way to educate patients on the risks they face is clear: A 2005 National Quality Forum report found that up to 70% of patients either don’t read their informed-consent forms or don’t understand what they do read. And nearly half of patients aren’t even clear on exactly what procedure they’re about to undergo.

Some experts are calling for even more detail to be provided to patients to anticipate questions patients should ask. Such information would cover questions that patients either may not think of, or may be too intimidated to ask, such as whether there are drug-based therapies that could be substituted for the procedure, how many times the physician has performed the procedure and how much the treatment will cost the patient out-of-pocket.

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