Hospitals Step Up Informed Consent Compliance Efforts
U.S. hospitals are improving their informed consent processes amid "mounting concern about patient safety and lawsuits arising from botched communications," the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, researchers have found that "most patients don't read the forms they sign before undergoing surgery or medical treatment." In addition, more than "half of those who do read the forms don't understand them, and only a quarter of forms include all of the data patients need to make an informed decision," the Journal reports.
In response, some hospitals have begun "offering explanatory videos and diagrams" to patients when they complete consent forms, as well as "translating medical lingo into simple English" and "offering materials in other languages" to explain medical procedures and provide information about alternative treatments, according to the Journal. Some hospitals also have begun to use new technologies, such as online databases that calculate the risk of medical procedures for patients before they complete consent forms and electronic forms to address problems with lost paper forms that can delay procedures and increase costs.
CMS recently issued new guidelines that require hospitals to develop "patient-friendly" informed consent processes, and facilities that do not comply could lose their eligibility to participate in Medicare. The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals nationwide, also has advocated improvements to the informed consent processes used by the facilities (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 2/6).