Trend: Hospitals improving informed consent process

Increasingly, U.S. hospitals have begun to improve their process for obtaining informed consent from patients, in part due to research concluding that most patients don't read consent forms (or understand them when the do read the forms). Such a lack of communication not only increases the likelihood of lawsuits if something goes wrong, it can also interfere with patient safety, as people can't be their own watchdogs if they don't understand what's going on. Not only that, hospital consent processes are being scrutinized by CMS, which has recently issued guidelines requiring that they be "patient friendly."

To close this gap, some hospitals have begun showing patients education videos and diagrams to help them understand the procedures or treatments they are about to undergo. They're also offering forms in simplified language which leave out medical jargon. Meanwhile, to serve growing immigrant populations, hospitals are preparing consent forms in multiple languages. Some hospitals are even using technology which calculates the risk involved with given medical procedures for patients and sharing those results with patients before they sign.

To find out more about this trend:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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Study: Non-English speakers don't get all services. Report