Hospital informed consent processes need a major overhaul, according to a new study published online in JAMA Surgery, which noted missing consent forms lead to delayed cases, burdensome and inadequate consent by residents, and extra work for nursing staff.
The study looked at the scope and magnitude of missing informed consent forms at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Researchers found consent forms were missing from the charts of 66 percent of patients who arrived in preop and as a result caused a delay in operation start times in 14 percent of the cases.
According to the study abstract, missing consent forms also interfered with team rounds and resident educational activities. In addition, researchers said residents spent less time obtaining consent and were often uncomfortable obtaining consent for major procedures. Finally, 40 percent of faculty felt dissatisfied with resident consent forms, and more than two-thirds felt patients were uncomfortable when residents asked them for their consent.
"If we believe that informed consent is an important concept and principle of ethics and patient care, we should take that process very seriously and figure out ways to streamline the process for patients and residents," Peter Angelos, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, told MedPage Today.
The study outcomes will help develop a centralized, single, streamlined, universally accepted electronic process for gathering consent forms and adding them to patients' medical records, MedPage Today reported. In addition, it will create a standardized consent form for common procedures and education for residents on how to correctly counsel patients undergoing such operations at Johns Hopkins.