Actually informing and consenting our patients

Today’s discussions included the topic of informed consent. A common theme was that the task of getting a consent signed typically seems to fall to the intern or whoever is deemed “lowest on the totem pole.” There was universal agreement that we had all at some point been charged with getting this consent when we were neither comfortable nor qualified with doing so. The system does not educate new residents on this important job which is largely the fault of a broader and much more concerning cultural issue around informed consent. The real issue is that we have created a system which views informed consent as a way to protect doctors instead of as an educational opportunity for patients. This is totally backwards from how it should be. Instead it should be viewed as a chance to truly educate the patient on their diagnosis, the treatment options available to them, and the risks and benefits of different options. By changing our mindset as to the goal of the informed consent process we will do a much better job of actually informing and consenting our patients.

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