Are Your Informed Consent Forms Bullet Proof?

January 17th, 2011

Some patients are litigious.

It’s an unfortunate fact of a doctor’s life that they must look at every patient as a possible plaintiff in a malpractice suit.

And, juries like to compensate those with injuries whether or not the doctor has done anything wrong.

I’m often reminded of the story told by a friend who served on a jury a few years ago.  The plaintiff had stepped off a well-marked curb and fell as she was leaving a restaurant.  The elderly plaintiff broke her leg in several places and sued the restaurant.

Although the evidence was incontrovertible that the restaurant had marked the curb and provided a nearby ramp, my friend said she still was tempted to vote in favor of the plaintiff just because the restaurant “could afford to pay.”

How prepared are you if through no fault of your own a procedure has a negative outcome?

As part of your practice’s New Year’s resolutions, why not review your Informed Consent forms and accompanying handouts.  Are they comprehensive? 

Many of the specialty societies are now providing language that may be included for you procedures.  Check the handouts you give your patients about procedures to ensure they include:

  • A description of the procedure,
  • Possible risks and benefits of the procedure,
  • Alternatives to the procedure, if any,
  • Aftercare instructions including contact information should the patient need assistance,
  • Estimated cost of the procedure.

We have a rudimentary form for your use at: 

http://www.klahealthcare.com/sites/240/uploaded/files/Authorization_for_Surgery.pdf

This form is designed to be accompanied with handouts explaining the above.

The form also includes permission to film the procedures.

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