Patient Consent: An Easy 3-Part Guide for Physicians

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As a healthcare provider, your patients’ safety must be at the forefront of your practice. Open patient-physician communication is one way of ensuring that your patients are comfortable and they feel safe. Before administering any medical procedure, you must walk them through the process from start to finish.

For ethical and legal purposes, you need to make patient consent forms a part of your intake process. The form serves as proof that your patients have fully understood all the aspects of the procedure and that they acknowledge the risks involved. This has to be documented in writing, which the concerned individual has to duly sign for the consent to be valid.

This article will guide you through the best ways to obtain patient consent, especially using online forms. Here’s what we will discuss:

 

Table of Contents

 

A signed patient consent form is a critical key in healthcare that gives you the green light to administer your recommended course of action. When obtaining written and signed consent from your patients, you need to ensure that your form has all the fundamental elements.

Let’s get to know each of them:

Competency

Your patient’s decision-making capacity plays a crucial role in getting consent. This means that your patients need to be of sound mind for their consent to be valid.

A patient should be able to:

  • Understand every aspect of the procedures and the options available
  • Recognize and acknowledge the risks involved in the procedure
  • Weigh the pros and cons of undergoing the treatments recommended

If, however, you find that the patient is not capable of making rational decisions, certain family members or legal guardians may give consent on their behalf. They can sign the patient consent form on their behalf. Of course, they also need to know the implications and outcomes.

For instance, parents of minors are given the authority to provide consent on their children’s behalf. The same can be said for patients who are living with mental illness or the elderly.

Disclosure

As mentioned earlier, transparent patient-physician communication is a must when providing high-quality medical care. When obtaining informed consent from your patients, you need to disclose everything there is to know about the course of treatment you are recommending—the ins and outs, the pros and cons, and what’s to be done.

Walking patients through the entire process not only reassures them but also provides them with everything they need to make informed decisions. If they have any questions, be sure to answer them promptly and clearly.

Comprehension

This is another fundamental key to obtaining patient consent. When you explain the procedure to your patients, make sure you use the simplest language to be better understood. It also prevents misunderstanding and miscommunication. Refrain from using highly technical terms if possible. Depending on your patient, you may need to define medical jargon to avoid confusion.

All procedures require patient consent. For basic tests like routine blood tests, X-rays, and ultrasound scans, consent is already implied. It is not necessary to have a written consent form signed by the patient.

However, for more invasive procedures like surgery, you need to have proper documentation to show that your patients have consented. In this case, you need to provide a patient consent form that your patient should sign.

There are five key elements to a patient consent form:

  • The consent form should state that the patient voluntarily agreed to undergo the procedure and that they were presented with the option to refuse treatment.
  • It should explain the nature of the procedure as well as the duration and the corresponding processes to be done.
  • The document should list the risks, possible side effects, and any discomfort patients may experience during and after the procedure.
  • The benefits of the procedure and the expected outcome should be indicated in the written patient consent form.
  • Finally, the consent form should list and explain alternative treatments.

When paper-based document management was the norm, physicians needed to produce multiple copies of consent forms for each patient. While this system worked, it overwhelmed many healthcare providers with the sheer number of documents they had to manage. There were also concerns over data security and HIPAA compliance.

Nowadays, you can use electronic consent forms instead. Here are some reasons why you should make the switch:

Streamlines document processes

Obtaining patient consent using digital solutions reduces the inefficiencies that come with manual processing. For one thing, they can conveniently sign documents using their electronic signature. Not only is it fast and easy but using esignatures is safe and legally valid. Patients can sign the form simply by using their phones, tablets, or computers.

Cuts down on costs

A lot of healthcare practitioners are hesitant to switch to a digital approach, thinking it’s quite an expense. The truth is, it is more expensive to keep on using a paper-based system. With online consent forms, you can reduce your operational expenses. You do not have to spend a considerable amount of money on printing and record keeping.

Safeguards important data

One of the main issues with a paper-based system is that it puts your patients’ data in such a vulnerable position. It’s so easy for unauthorized parties to access highly sensitive information when they’re printed out and left unsecured. Using digital consent forms ensures that protected health information (PHI) remains secure against cyber threats or breaches.

Improves Patient Outcome

Using electronic consent forms also benefits your patients. You can send them the document in advance so they have more than enough time to read through its contents. That way, if they have any further questions about the procedure or treatment, they can clarify them with you.

How Can Fill Help With Obtaining Patient Consent?

To get started with digitizing patient consent forms, you need to equip yourself with the right tools. One that’s undoubtedly worth the investment is Fill. It is a feature-rich document-signing platform that allows you to sign documents, create electronic consent forms, and request electronic signatures.

With Fill, your protected health information is in good hands. We use military-grade encryption to eliminate the risk of breaches and unauthorized access. Our state-of-the-art security features include signer identity verification to quickly spot fraudulent activities.
Best of all, Fill is HIPAA compliant so you can use it to manage your health records and other highly sensitive documents online.

Find out the other ways Fill can help you with your medical practice. Book a demo today.

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