Telluride Reflection – Day 2

Today’s discussion around the informed consent process was really enlightening. A common thread amongst both doctors and nurses was that there was extremely minimal education related to the importance and weight of informed consent before starting in the field. When I was a new nurse, I remember MDs coming up to me asking me to “witness” a consent even though I had not been in the room. Even now, I have seen some doctors place a communication order over EHR stating “Nursing, please witness consent in chart” (which also ties into the discussion from Day 1 about how EHR can hurt communication with MDs and RNs). Reflecting after the discussion, I now don’t think this was oversight by the MD but more of a product of lack of education related to informed consent during training. If informed consent was emphasized in nursing and medical school as a “shared decision-making process” rather than an important signature with legal implications, then hopefully less errors will be made. Additionally, I think patients and families would feel more satisfied, confident, and trusting in the care they are consenting to.

The best informed consent I ever witnessed was when a doctor used the “teach-back” method with a patient. After informing the patient about the procedure, risks, and benefits, he literally had the patient teach back to me, as the witness, what he just said. He also left ample time for questions. Though this was more of a simple procedure, I definitely thought it was a great method to use while consenting.