Every story of patient harm from medical error has broken my heart, but the story of Michael Skolnik hit home. As a neurosurgical operating room nurse, I have both circulated and scrubbed numerous neurosurgical procedures. I have met the young, the old, the mom, the dad, the child, and more but ultimately we place a sterile drape over the patient and our attention instantly shifts. We can become so focused on an intervention that we can lose sight of the big picture.
It had never occurred to me that a witness is not required on an informed consent form, or it is institution or state specific. When I learned that information this morning, my mind was blown. I can think of numerous situations where having a witness has been a critical step. Not only can a witness stop the line if there is a question about a patient’s ability to consent, but I have also seen surgeons use a qualified witness to teach the same information in a different manner or confirm understanding of what has been discussed. The biggest takeaway for me is that it isn’t a signature, it is a process.
The second day of the Telluride Experience has highlighted a whole new set of personal experiences, educational principles, and strategies for patient safety and I am excited to forge forward!