Patients want better informed consent, doc communication

To avoid medical negligence claims and patient complaints, hospitals must improve the consent process and ensure all possible complications are mentioned or explained prior to treatment. According to a University of Melbourne study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, in more than 70 percent of legal disputes about informed consent, patients say the doctor--most often a surgeon--didn't adequately explain the risks of complications.

The study highlights a gap between what doctors do and what patients want, a problem that stems from poor communication.

"In my experience, most doctors feel that they adequately discuss the risks of a procedure as part of their practice. Our findings show that our patients do not always share this view," said lead author and neurosurgical registrar Dr. Andrew Gogos in a University of Melbourne press release.

Improving the way clinicians and patients communicate about treatment not only can improve the quality of care, but it can also protect hospitals from lawsuits if something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, surgery patients at teaching hospitals want informed consent when it comes to resident participation in their care, according to a new study in the Archives of Surgery.

However, most hospitals' informed consent processes don't include policies for notifying patients about the role of surgical trainees, the authors said in a press release.

In keeping with the trend toward patients becoming more active participants in decision-making, patients overwhelmingly preferred to be informed of resident participation in their surgery, whether major (95.7 percent) or minor (87.5 percent).

This study notes that although surgery patients want more information prior to treatment, consent rates dropped with increasing levels of resident involvement, which could undermine resident training.

To learn more:
- read the University of Melbourne press release
- check out the MJA article
- read the JAMA press release
- read the Archives of Surgery study abstract

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